Report: Cleveland Indians, Corey Kluber ‘not close’ on extension


Long-term deal between Cleveland Indians and Corey Kluber is more complicated than it appears

Similar to the way the Cleveland Indians handled a multitude of young stars last spring, the Tribe brass have spent the better part of this month attempting to sign Cy Young-winner Corey Kluber to a long-term deal. 

According to CBS Sports Baseball Insider Jon Heyman, though, the Indians are ‘not close’ to reaching an agreement with the ace after talks with Kluber’s agent B.B. Abbott last week. The two sides are currently engaged in what Joel Sherman of the New York Post describes as a “friendly, high-risk contract standoff.”

The Indians have a long history of signing controllable players to long-term deals before free agency that dates back to the John Hart days in the 1990s. Cleveland continued the trend last season with Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes.

Kluber is much different than any of those guys, however.

Though he just broke into the league two seasons ago, Cleveland’s ace will be 29 years old in April. He is not eligible for arbitration until next offseason and will not hit free agency until he is 33 years old.

In theory, general manager Chris Antonetti could elect the arbitration route, going year-to-year with the team’s ace without having to gamble on a long-term deal with a pitcher approaching his 30s. But he then runs the risk of losing a valuable arm.

For his part, Antonetti acknowledged the team’s desire to resign Kluber, saying:

"Corey represents all the attributes we are looking for in players in the way he prepares, in the way he leads, in the way he interacts with teammates. His success is not accidental. It is a direct reflection of his work ethic."

Kluber, on the other hand, could elect to go year-to-year in arbitration and lose out on a substantial chunk of money if he fails to repeat his 2014 success in future years.

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That is the type of high stakes game the Tribe — and Kluber — must now play.

The safest option for both sides is to meet in the middle and get an extension worked out this offseason. Kluber has said he is open to a new deal and Abbott, like the Indians, also has a history of signing big deals before his clients hit free agency (see: White Sox ace Chris Sale in 2013).

Given Kluber’s age, Abbott provided a thought on the process, as it could be the first and only deal Kluber signs the rest of his career:

"If he considers this, he is doing it with his eyes wide open. He knows this will be the only time to sign this kind of multi-year deal."

Kluber was 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA with 269 strikeouts last season. Surely the Tribe would like to keep their strongest asset happy. Surely they would like to know they have a dynamic arm at the top of their rotation for the next several years.

But everything comes at a price. Let the games begin.

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