Diagnosing Deals: Kluber’s is King

Symptoms. Who has the sickest deal in the MLB? The Indians earn that title, owning the pitcher and player I’d most want based on talent and contract situation. Symptoms of this include a proven consistent pitcher, locked in with a low salary and flexible contract without arbitration upcoming.

$$$. Kluber fits the bill, currently locked in for 3 more years with club options for two more, all at well under $20 million (even with potential escalators). Other Cy Young winners like David Price, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Sherzer are scheduled to make twice as much or more over the same time (albeit in bigger markets with a higher cost of living).

Stats. Kluber’s contract would seem to indicate he does not belong with these names. However, the statistics tell a different story. Kluber’s wins above replacement (WAR) of 18 since 2014 is third among all pitchers, about 1 win behind Scherzer and 2.5 behind Kershaw. He’s proven he can handle the pressure of the big stage with 4 wins in the 2016 post season and a sub-1.00 ERA prior to Game 7 of the WS. Also, he’s had a K:BB of 4:1 or better each of the last 4 years, while the last 3 years he has struck out over an average of 1+ per inning with 200+ IP and averaging 15 wins. Lastly, he shows no signs of slowing down with fastball (FB) velocity holding strong around 93 mph and without history of injury.

Prescription. 2 Advil every 5 days for the next 5 years to AL Central GMs not named Mike Chernoff, as jealousy of Kluber and his contract is sure to cause a lot of headaches

Waiting Room. Carlos Martinez, Aaron Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, and Chris Archer: these guys were close to the title of king when considering ability & contract, but had key negatives. Pending arbitration or higher salary casts doubt over the first three names, and inconsistent performance has plagued Archer.