An important chapter in the Corey Kluber comeback story was written Wednesday at the Cressey Sports Performance facility in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Kluber, who totaled just eight starts (36 2/3 innings) over the past two seasons due to injuries, hosted a showcase that reportedly was attended by about 25 Major League Baseball organizations.
The session drew positive reviews, with ESPN’s Jeff Passan reporting that scouts came away impressed and that a strong free agency market for Kluber is expected.
According to Passan, Kluber threw 30 pitches, including all of his offspeed stuff, and the right-hander’s velocity sat at around 88-90 mph as he builds toward spring training.
A source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that Kluber impressed onlookers, commanding his pitches well and flashing typical velocity for this point in the offseason.
“I don’t have a mindset that I need to prove myself to anyone, so to speak,” Kluber told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers in a recent phone interview. “I just need to show people that I’m healthy. I’m not putting pressure on myself to go out there and do X, Y and Z. It’s just about showing teams I’m progressing through a normal offseason.”
Kluber, who turns 35 in April, dealt with a fractured forearm (he was struck by a line drive), an oblique strain and a teres major strain between 2019 and 2020.
That said, he was a two-time Cy Young Award winner with the Cleveland Indians (2014, 2017) and was excellent the last time he stayed healthy for a full season, going 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA, a 3.12 FIP, a 0.99 WHIP and 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 33 starts (215 innings) in 2018.
As such, Kluber is a very intriguing bounce-back candidate despite the inherent uncertainty stemming from his injuries and his age, especially if he’s attainable on a short-term contract that’s heavy on incentives.
It’s unclear which clubs attended Wednesday’s workout, but the Boston Red Sox reportedly are among the teams that have shown interest in the three-time All-Star this offseason.
Boston is looking to bolster its pitching staff before the 2021 campaign, and Kluber, if nothing else, would be a fascinating lottery ticket coupled with the impending returns of Chris Sale (Tommy John surgery) and Eduardo Rodriguez (myocarditis).