- After throwing for interested teams on Wednesday, reports indicate the market for free agent right-hander Corey Kluber expected to be strong
- Despite some blockbuster additions to their rotation, the San Diego Padres are ‘doing background work’ on starters, including Masahiro Tanaka
- The San Francisco Giants appear to be one of several teams with interested in free agent southpaw Cole Hamels
While much of the sports landscape is focused on the NFL playoffs, the ongoing NBA season and the beginning of the NHL season on Wednesday night, let’s not forget about Major League Baseball as we sit less than a month away from the opening of spring training.
Here’s some news and notes from around the league.
Kluber Market Expected to be ‘Strong’
Free agent right-hander Corey Kluber 30 pitches in front of roughly 25 teams on Wednesday, and according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, his market is expected to be strong after impressing in his workout.
Passan notes that Kluber’s fastball sat between 88-90 mph as he ramps up velocity towards spring training while he also featured his off-speed stuff.
Nearly 25 teams showed up at Corey Kluber’s showcase today, and scouts came away impressed. His fastball sat 88-90 — and he’s got more velocity in the tank as he builds toward spring training. Kluber threw 30 pitches, including all of his off-speed stuff. Strong market expected.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2021
According to various reports, the teams in attendance included the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals.
The 2014 and 2017 AL Cy Young winner wanted to throw in front of interested parties after injuries derailed his 2019 and 2020 seasons. He managed just 35.2 innings in 2019 with the Cleveland Indians before a fractured arm ended his season while he lasted just one inning in 2020 with the Texas Rangers due to a shoulder issue.
When heathy, the 34-year-old’s track record speaks for itself. In parts of 10 big-league seasons, Kluber owns a 3.16 ERA/2.99 FIP with a 9.80 K/9. He managed five straight seasons of 200-plus innings before the injury setbacks over the last two campaigns.
Kluber also ranked third in fWAR among starting pitchers from 2014-18.
It no longer appears if Kluber will pitch in 2021 but now simply a question of where.
Padres Doing Background Work on Starters
If the blockbuster trade acquisitions of Blake Snell from the Rays and Yu Darvish for the Cubs weren’t enough, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Diego Padres are doing background work on multiple free-agent starters, including former Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, one of the top names remaining on the open market.
Tanaka is reportedly a close friend of Darvish and also worked with pitching coach Larry Rothschild in the past when the latter was working for the Yankees.
Rosenthal also notes that free agent lefty Martin Perez is on the team’s radar. Padres general manager AJ Preller signed Perez while with the Rangers in 2007.
Wrote today about Padres doing background work on FA on starting pitchers, specifically mentioning Tanaka. https://t.co/6cdd7JZeFK Another in whom they’ve shown interest: Martín Pérez. A.J. Preller signed Pérez for Rangers in 2007 when he was team’s director of int’l scouting.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 13, 2021
With Mike Clevinger set to miss the 2021 season following Tommy John surgery and Dinelson Lamet fighting a biceps injury while missing the 2020 postseason, the Padres have clearly been aggressive in adding impact arms to their rotation to complement one of the most exciting offenses in baseball.
Tanaka originally was considering a return to his native Japan this offseason if he didn’t re-sign with the Yankees, but more recent reports suggest Tanaka is open to signing with another MLB club if the opportunity is right.
Across seven seasons in the Bronx, Tanaka has worked to a 3.74 ERA/3.91 FIP with an 8.46 K/9 and 1.78 BB/9. Only twice in his seven seasons has he posted an ERA north of 3.75 as he’s long been a reliable arm for the Yankees since coming overseas prior to the 2014 campaign.
Giants Interested in Veteran Hamels
It appears as if the San Francisco Giants are among teams with interest in free agent left-hander Cole Hamels, reports MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.
Cole Hamels, 37, intends to pitch this year, but his throwing session for @MLB team scouts has not yet been scheduled. The #SFGiants are among the clubs to express preliminary interest in Hamels, a free agent who made one start for the #Braves in 2020. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 13, 2021
Despite throwing all of 3.1 innings with the Braves last season due to shoulder fatigue that ultimately shut him down, Hamels is not planning to retire and Giants general manager Scott Harris has told Morosi that the club is looking to add a left-handed starter with the remainder of their projected rotation currently featuring five right-handers in Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani, Logan Webb and Shaun Anderson.
Hamels joined the Braves in 2020 after working to a 3.91 ERA/4.09 FIP across 27 starts with the Chicago Cubs in 2019. In 15 MLB seasons including his abbreviated 2020 campaign, Hamels owns a 3.43 ERA/3.68 FIP. Prior to 2020, the 37-year-old had worked to an ERA of 3.81 or better in nine of his previous 10 seasons.