The Reds starting rotation is good enough without Corey Kluber.
Cincinnati Reds fans are quite familiar with Corey Kluber’s work. During his nine-year career with the Cleveland Indians, Kluber posted a 4-0 record and a 1.80 ERA against Cincinnati while striking out 26 batters over 30 innings of work. Now a free agent, Kluber worked out for over 20 teams yesterday. While the Reds were likely one of those clubs, they needn’t sign the right-hander.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, nearly 25 attended Kluber’s workout on Wednesday, one in which he threw 30 pitches. His fastball was said to be sitting between 88-90 MPH, and according ESPN’s Buster Olney, Kluber’s ensuing negotiations are expected to go quickly.
Were the Cincinnati Reds one of the 25 teams present at Kluber’s showcase? Nothing has been confirmed, but given that Cincinnati had past interest in trading for the two-time Cy Young Award winner, it’s a good bet at least one of the Reds’ scouts was there. In addition to Kluber, both Anthony Shwarzak and Steve Chisek were throwing as well.
So, while Corey Kluber was the most recognizable name at the event, given that Cincinnati’s bullpen is an area of concern heading into 2021, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Reds sent a scout to elevate the two right-handed relievers.
However, let’s get back to Kluber. At nearly 35-years old, Kluber’s best years are behind him. From 2014-2018, you could make the argument that Kluber was the best pitcher in the game. Owning a 2.85 ERA over 160 starts, Kluber went to three All-Star Games, placed in the Top 10 Cy Young voting every year, and took home the award twice.
But, over the past two seasons, Kluber hasn’t seen the field enough to be effective. In 2019, Kluber started just seven games and posted a career-worst 5.80 ERA. Last season, after being traded to the Texas Rangers, Kluber exited the lineup at one inning and was later diagnosed with a torn teres major muscle. He ended his season on the injured list.
Starting pitching has been a bit of concern for the Cincinnati Reds heading into the offseason. Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer’s asking price is much too high for the Reds, and Cincinnati has seen free agent pitcher Anthony DeSclafani sign with San Francisco.
There’s also the matter of trade rumors surrounding Cincinnati’s top two pitchers, Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray. Castillo and Gray have seen their names come up in trade talks, but nothing has materialized as of yet. Between the two, it’s more likely that Gray is dealt before the season.
With all that said, the Cincinnati Reds have a much bigger hole to fill that a third or fourth starter. The team still has yet to address the void at shortstop. Freddy Galvis is a free agent, unlikely to return, and José García is in need of more seasoning at the minor league level. Before the front office entertains the idea of signing a player like Kluber, the shortstop position must be addressed.
With Cincinnati looking to cut payroll, it’s unlikely that the Reds would look to Kluber in order to bolster their rotation anyway. With highly-touted left-hander Nick Lodolo waiting in the wings, the team would do better to develop their young hurler rather than pursuing a pitcher who’s past his prime.