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Brewers: Should Milwaukee Make A Run At Free Agent Corey Kluber?

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JULY 26: Corey Kluber (28) of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the top of the first inning at Globe Life Field on July 26, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JULY 26: Corey Kluber (28) of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the top of the first inning at Globe Life Field on July 26, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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The Brewers have an opportunity to buy low on a potential high reward addition.

It’s almost surreal to see just how tough this offseason is going to be for both teams and players. A large number of players are going to get non-tendered or have their options declined when such a thing wouldn’t happen to them after a normal season. This could be to the benefit and to the detriment of the Brewers.

In this instance, here’s a chance for this to be to the benefit of the Crew.

For several years, Corey Kluber has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Now, the Milwaukee Brewers are presented with an opportunity to add him to their rotation for cheap.

The Texas Rangers declined the $18MM club option on Kluber for the 2021 season, making him a free agent.

The Risks Of Corey Kluber

From 2014-2018, Kluber won the Cy Young award twice, finished in the top 3 four times, and led the league in wins twice, ERA once, complete games three times, and walks per nine twice. He threw over 200 innings in each of those seasons and was as durable and reliable as anyone.

Unfortunately, from 2019-2020, that hasn’t been the case for Kluber. He’s started just eight games over the past two seasons after fracturing his arm on a line drive comebacker in 2019 and suffering a Grade 2 teres major strain in his shoulder in his first and only start for Texas this year.

Kluber will be entering his age-35 season in 2021 and he’s not likely to find his 2014-18 durability again, but the Brewers don’t need him to be the ace of this rotation throwing 200 innings in a season. He doesn’t have to go seven, eight, nine innings in a start. If the Brewers can get him to go five or six innings and get guys out, then he’ll be worth it. He would just need to be a solid No. 3 behind Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes.

While Kluber does have a successful track record, his struggles to stay on the field in the last two seasons is going to drop his price dramatically. The contract option for him was at $18MM for next year, which he’s not going to come close to finding this offseason.

For Kluber, maybe a salary around $8-10MM is more feasible for him to find this offseason given his recent history but also recognizing his dominant past. Also, to his credit, he has been cleared for a normal offseason routine, so he should be fully healthy for the start of 2021.

Should The Brewers Pursue Corey Kluber?

This is where the detriment of this offseason comes in for the Brewers. If they’re going to sign Kluber, even for $8-10MM, they’re going to have to clear some payroll somewhere else.

That kind of salary for a pitcher with the stuff that Kluber has is an incredible value for a team like the Brewers. But that still might be too much money to pay given the payroll structure the Brewers currently have.

If GM David Stearns wants to swing for a big name, then he can pull the trigger on Kluber. But has Stearns ever been the kind of GM that swings at big names? The only time Stearns pulled the trigger on a big name was when he signed Yasmani Grandal to a one year deal in 2019, and at least then Grandal was in his prime coming off a good season.

A Kluber-Brewers pairing seems unlikely given the philosophy of Stearns and the salary movement that would be necessary to bring him on board.

It’s an interesting possibility, that the Brewers will likely do their due diligence on Kluber and monitor his market, but they aren’t likely to be heavy players for him unless some unforeseen changes happen over the next few weeks.

Next. Whose Contract Options Should Be Picked Up?. dark

There will be several more players who weren’t originally expected to be available this offseason who will be free agents.

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