The Tampa Bay Rays have won two straight AL East division titles, and they’re hoping to extend that streak in 2022.
But even though the Rays have become a perennial contender, they’re still searching for their first World Series championship in franchise history.
In order to get over the hump next season, they’re likely going to have to make some noise this winter.
Dominoes are already starting to fall in free agency, and Tampa Bay needs to make sure it doesn’t miss out on the action.
Corey Kluber is one free agent who some fans think the Rays should target.
The idea does seem to make a lot of sense.
Here are a few reasons why.
3. Kluber Would Likely Come At A Low Price
Kluber is 35 years old.
Over the last three MLB seasons, he has thrown a total of 116.2 innings.
Those are red flags for a lot of clubs.
He still has a lot of upside (which we’ll talk about in a minute), but at this stage of his career, he’s likely going to come at a reasonable price for whichever club ends up signing him.
The righty made $11 million with the New York Yankees in 2021, and most projections expect him to sign a deal with a similar salary for 2022.
2. He Had A Pretty Strong Showing In 2021
As mentioned, Kluber showed some really good things in 2021.
Due to injury, he only made 16 starts, but the results were really encouraging.
He posted a 3.83 ERA and 112 ERA+.
For context, a 112 ERA+ is 12 percent better than league-average.
He also maintained a 3.85 FIP, which suggests that it’s safe to take his ERA at face value.
The veteran fanned 82 batters in 80.0 innings, giving him a strikeouts-per-nine of 9.2.
The Yankees went 10-6 in his starts.
He also gave fans an unforgettable night in May when he threw a no-hitter.
COREY KLUBER HAS THROWN THE FIRST YANKEES NO HITTER THIS CENTURY! 😱 pic.twitter.com/euqttlBXI2
— Yankees Posts (@YankeesPosts) May 20, 2021
Kluber might not be the Cy Young candidate he used to be, but it definitely seems like he’s capable of providing quality innings.
1. The Rays Need To Address Their Rotation Situation, And Signing Kluber Would Likely Go A Long Way
Tampa Bay’s rotation wasn’t exactly a strong suit in 2021.
It doesn’t seem like things are going to get much better in 2022.
The club needs to address this area.
Kluber would undeniably be an upgrade over some of the team’s current options.
Corey Kluber, Dirty 81mph Breaking Ball…and Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/cPM0vbQHBx
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 17, 2021
While he’s not going to be a staff ace at this point in his career, he seems more than capable of pitching like a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy.
The Rays were one of the teams interested in signing Kluber last offseason, so the idea of these two sides linking up might not be too crazy.
If the three-time All-Star does land with the Rays, it’ll mark his second straight season pitching for a team in the AL East.
That could be great for him, as he has had a lot of success throughout his career pitching against teams in that division.
He has a lifetime ERA of 3.49 against AL East opponents.
Make of that what you want.