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Tampa Bay Rays Sign Corey Kluber To One-Year Contract

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(via Tampa Bay Rays Communications) - The Tampa Bay Rays have signed free agent right-handed pitcher Corey Kluber to a one-year, $8 million contract with an additional $5 million in incentives. The signing brings the 40-man roster to its full capacity.

Kluber, 35, is 103-61 with a 3.19 ERA (1,422.2-IP, 505-ER) in 225 appearances (220 starts) over 11 major league seasons with the Cleveland Guardians (2011-19), Texas Rangers (2020) and New York Yankees (2021). Among active pitchers with 1,000 innings, he ranks fifth in ERA behind Clayton Kershaw (2.49), Jacob deGrom (2.50), Chris Sale (3.03) and Max Scherzer (3.16). His 1.10 WHIP ranks sixth among actives (min. 1,000 IP) and his .628 winning pct. ranks ninth (min. 100 decisions).

Kluber has combined for 24 starts and 116.2 innings over the last three seasons due to injuries. He missed three months last season with a right shoulder strain and was removed from his only start of the shortened 2020 season after the 1st inning with tightness behind his right shoulder. Further testing revealed a Grade 2 tear of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season. In 2019, he sustained a right ulna fracture on a line drive during his May 1 start at the Miami Marlins and suffered a season-ending left oblique strain in an August rehab start.

Kluber won the American League Cy Young Award in 2014 and 2017, finished in ninth place in 2015 and in third place in 2016 and 2018. Over those five seasons, he went 83-45 with a 2.85 ERA (1,091.1-IP, 345-ER) in 160 starts. He was one of two pitchers in the majors to reach at least 200 innings in all five of those seasons (Scherzer) and one of three to reach at least 200 strikeouts in all five seasons (Sale, Scherzer). Kluber is one of three Cleveland pitchers with at least five seasons of at least 200 strikeouts, joining Sam McDowell (six) and Bob Feller (five). His 1,461 strikeouts with Cleveland rank third in franchise history behind Feller (2,581) and McDowell (2,159). He has reached double-digit strikeouts in 45 starts since 2014, which ranks fifth in the majors over that stretch behind Scherzer (86), Sale (68), deGrom (53) and Gerrit Cole (46).

He remains one of 21 pitchers since the Cy Young Award was introduced in 1956 to win multiple times and is the only Cleveland pitcher to do so. In 2014, he became the fourth Cleveland pitcher to win the Cy Young Award, joining Cliff Lee in 2008, CC Sabathia in 2007 and Gaylord Perry in 1972. Shane Bieber joined this list in the shortened 2020 season.

Kluber has made eight Opening Day rosters (all consecutively since 2014) and five career Opening Day starts (all with Cleveland from 2015-19). In 2021, he went 5-3 with a 3.83 ERA (80-IP, 34-ER) and 82 strikeouts in 16 starts, earning AL Player of the Week honors for May 17-23 and April 26–May 2. On May 19 at Globe Life Field, he pitched the first no-hitter of his career and the first no-hitter by a Yankees pitcher since David Cone’s perfect game in 1999. According to Major League Baseball, he became the third pitcher in major league history to deliver a no-hitter against a team he had pitched for in the same or previous season, joining Terry Mulholland vs. San Francisco (1990) and Ray Caldwell at the Yankees (1919).

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