Extend Corey Kluber for Life! [WoF vs. That Guy]

Aug 15, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) pitches during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

We all know That Guy  He’s the typical uneducated Indians fan clamoring for that Right Handed Power Bat, petitioning to get rid of solid players after a down season, yelling at the front office for not calling up top prospects as soon as possible, and vowing that he won’t come to the stadium until the Indians start spending money on the top tier free agents. That can be a pain in the butt, but Wahoo’s on First is here to help keep him quiet and, better yet, educate him.

This week, That Guy is clamoring for the Indians to give Corey Kluber a lifetime extension.

That Guy:  I heard the Indians haven’t even approached the Kluborg about a contract extension yet! What’s the holdup, yo? He dominated last year! Why can’t the front office just suck it up and pay him already? Probably because they plan on trading him like our other Cy Young winners! That’s messed up, yo.

Wahoo’s on First: Come on, That Guy. You have to know better than this by now. The Indians have no reason to rush the process of potentially extending Kluber. In fact, it might even be beneficial to avoid an extension this offseason.

That Guy: Now you’re blowing my mind, dawg. The Indians give extensions like candy at Halloween! Last year they extended a bunch of dope players like Yan Gomes, Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis. Why would they want to ignore Kluber? That’s wicked crazy.

Wahoo’s on First:  I never said they should ignore Kluber entirely. But there’s little sense in extending a defending Cy Young winner who will pitch nearly all of next season at the age of 29, especially while he’s pre-arbitration.

That Guy:  Wouldn’t a Cy Young winner be a great guy to have around for his whole career? I’m mad confused.

Wahoo’s on First:  Of course he’d be great to have around. But remember when we talked about players and how their value is like stock? Kluber’s value is sky high right now after winning the AL Cy Young award. Considering the fact that the Indians have him under team control through his age 32 season, they have a powerful amount of leverage in possible negotiations. They can afford to wait until his value drops a little to talk about keeping him in Cleveland longer.

That Guy:  But what if his value doesn’t drop? Wouldn’t a repeat of last season make him even more expensive? Waiting longer could backfire, and the Tribe should jump on the opportunity now! YOLO, brolo.

Wahoo’s on First:  A repeat of last season would probably make him too expensive for the Tribe to keep for very long past his final arbitration year, anyway. And I’m sure you know by now that seven to ten year contracts like the ones given out to Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer in recent years are too expensive and risky for a small-market team like the Indians. But you bring up an interesting point about jumping at the opportunity. There is a good case to be made for extending Kluber this offseason, but not for the so-called lifetime contract that you want.

That Guy: I mean it makes sense to not overpay to keep Kluber around. So you’re talking about a Jason Kipnis kind of extension where they buy out a few of his free agent years?

Wahoo’s on First:  Not even that. See, the Indians were willing to guarantee Kipnis so many extra years because of his age. His contract will keep him in Cleveland through age 33, meaning that they get his most productive years. The Tribe already controls Kluber through age 32, so there’s little reason to guarantee him anything beyond that. The best reason to extend Kluber would be to save money on the years that he’s already under team control.

That Guy:  You mean the team is only out to save a little dough? I”m a˜bout ready to toss my Tribe jersey out the window.

Wahoo’s on First: Think about the situation. Kluber will pitch 2015 near the league minimum. If for some reason (God forbid) he goes down with a torn UCL and needs Tommy John surgery, or deals with any one of numerous other health issues, it’s possible he’ll never see any of the money that a hard-earned Cy Young award might normally bring to a player. It’s worth noting that PECOTA projections show his performance falling off a cliff next year. While such a drastic regression is probably exaggerated, there are many good reasons that Kluber and his agent might be willing to take a multi-million dollar guarantee in exchange for a discount.

That Guy:  I guess it makes sense to do something like that if the opportunity is right there. That’d give the Indians some of that financial flexibility you’ve been telling me they want, right?

Wahoo’s on First:  Exactly.  Something in the neighborhood of a $20-$24 million guarantee through 2018 could make sense for both sides, and because of Cleveland’s enviable leverage in the situation, they might be able to snag an option for his 2019 season at around $12 million (with a buyout of $2 million or so). Heck, it’s even possible they could get a second option on the back end of his contract, though that’s significantly less likely.

That Guy:  I gotcha. So the Indians would be better using their leverage with Kluber to put themselves in a better financial position.

Wahoo’s on First: Right again. Why should they guarantee him a lifetime contract when they could probably extend him with a single option and cover all of his best years? It goes without saying that such an option could prove valuable if the Indians want to exercise it and trade him for top prospects after the 2018 season.

That Guy:  WHAT? You mean you WANT the Indians to trade Corey Kluber? I’m  so enraged I could rip a phonebook, dawg!

Wahoo’s on First:  It looks like I may have gotten in over my head. Clearly you’™re not ready for those kinds of subjects, That Guy. But we will get you to understand someday. Until then, we will keep doing our best to keep you in check.

Have you heard a stereotypical That Guy complaint lately? We hear a lot of them, but there are plenty of unique ones we may not have caught wind of.  If you want us to write about yours, e-mail it to us at wahoosonfirst@gmail.com.