New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman continued to overhaul his starting rotation on Sunday by trading for Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon. The work began in earnest more than a week ago when Cashman signed two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to a one-year, $11 million contract.
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The Yankees signed Kluber two days after his open workout in Florida. ESPN’s Buster Olney has new details on Kluber’s throwing session and his contract negotiations with the Yankees.
As Corey Kluber prepared for his audition in front of scouts on Jan. 13, the industry expectation was that the right-hander would ultimately get offered a base salary of $6 million to $8 million with some incentives built on top. Kluber was good in his workout, although not spectacular, with fastball velocity in the 88-91 mph range. What he showed, however, was enough to help distinguish him from the other possibilities in the free-agent market. He apparently inspired clubs such as the Yankees and Blue Jays to dream big, because he got was a one-year, $11 million offer from the Yankees that, according to sources, was not the highest offer. The Yankees thought about trying to arrange a deal structure that would allay some of the impact on the team’s standing with the competitive balance tax but settled on a straight, one-year deal without incentives. Kluber has won two Cy Young Awards and has a large arsenal of weapons in his pitch mix and unusual pitch movement. Although Kluber turns 35 in April and injuries have limited him to eight starts the past two seasons, the Yankees (and other teams) bet on a bounce-back season with their offer.
Both Kluber and Taillon are low-risk, high-reward acquisitions. But given their injury history, plus with Luis Severino on the mend from Tommy John surgery and Domingo German coming off a year-long suspension, Cashman would be wise to keep looking for ways to upgrade the pitching staff going into spring training.
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