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Mets: Five under the radar pitching free agent candidates to consider

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 24: Keone Kela #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after a 9-2 win over the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 24, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 24: Keone Kela #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after a 9-2 win over the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 24, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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Mets
Jul 26, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Kluber

With all the big name starting pitcher free agent names being thrown out there like Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman or Masahiro Tanaka, a man who is a former two-time AL Cy Young award winner is surprisingly rarely getting mentioned as often as some of those other targets. And that person is Corey Kluber.

Kluber, as we all know, had one heck of a run in his career with the Cleveland Indians from 2011 to 2019 where he amassed two Cy Young awards in 2014 and in 2017 as well as finished top three in Cy Young Award voting back in 2016 and in 2018. From 2013 to 2018, Kluber had an ERA of 3.12 and averaged about 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched as a full-time starter. The Birmingham Alabama native recently just won 20 games in a season just two years ago back in 2018, so it’s not like he has been completely washed up for a long period of time either.

Kluber turns 35 next April and is coming off two years where he has been mired with injury. He pitched just one inning in his first start in 2020 before leaving with a torn muscle in the back of his right shoulder for the Texas Rangers. In 2019, in his last season with the Indians, Kluber went down with a fractured right forearm in May after he took a line drive to his pitching arm in a game against the Marlins. He was 2-3 with a 5.80 coming into that game and struggling with his control and mechanics.

The Rangers decided not to pick up Kluber’s $18 million option for 2021, making him a free agent. On the bright side, Kluber did look good in Spring Training and the shortened mini-camp in 2020 before he went down with the torn shoulder muscle. There is a good chance he recovers fully and if he can be even 70% the pitcher he was in 2018, the Mets might be able to find a short term hidden gem that they can pencil in between Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard for under $8 million next season.  Kluber could provide that much needed depth and stability to a Mets rotation that had neither of those in 2020.

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