2014 American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2015 season, and the Indians will consider signing him to a contract extension that would buy out some or all three of his arbitration years, and perhaps some of his free agent years as well, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian.
Here’s what Indians president Mark Shapiro had to say about the situation:
“Corey represents all of the things we look for in players: dependable, reliable person, committed to his work ethic, talented. Then you look at contracts and you say, ‘Can we find that point where we’re both comfortable with the shared risk?’ We don’t know that right now. That’s something that we’ll have to look at.
“As prioritization of the calendar goes, it’s something we’ll probably look at over the next couple of months. … He has all the precursors that we would look for to enter into a multiyear agreement.”
Kluber, in his second full season in the majors, took the baseball world by storm in 2014. The right-hander led the league in wins with 18 while posting a 2.34 ERA and a 269/51 K/BB ratio in 235 2/3 innings. He narrowly edged out Mariners starter Felix Hernandez for the AL Cy Young award with 169 points to 159.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.