How great is the Corey Kluber deal for the Cleveland Indians?

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Avoiding Arbitration Is Smart Move

One key thing with the arbitration process is that Kluber wouldn’t have to duplicate his 2014 season to be well paid. He’s already done enough that even if he fell flat on his face in 2015 or, God forbid, he got hurt, he’d still get paid handsomely. Consider that Chris Tillman of the Baltimore Orioles just got $4.315M in his first year of arbitration. Here are his numbers from the previous two years:

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I’m not saying Chris Tillman is a bad pitcher, but compare what he did the last two years to what Kluber has done, and then remember that Kluber’s new deal will pay him only $4.5M in his first year of arbitration, a mere $185K more than what Chris Tillman is going to make his first year of arbitration.  There’s very little Corey Kluber could have done in 2015 that would have resulted in him getting less than $4.5M in arbitration in 2016. Here’s a quick look at a few “comparable” starting pitchers and what the got over their three arbitration years:

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I use the term “comparable” lightly here as Corey Kluber has already far surpassed just about everyone on this list.  The only guys that are even close to comparable in terms of talent and resume are the top three and, as one can see, all got multiple millions more than what Kluber will get.  Even among David Price, Jered Weaver, Max Scherzer, and Doug Fister, none had a pre-arbitration season anywhere near the level that Kluber had in 2014, and only Scherzer ever had any such year (2013, before his final arbitration year).  In fact, there is only one pitcher that I found in recent memory that had a year as great as Kluber’s 2014 and was not arbitration eligible the following year. That pitcher is Tim Lincecum.

Next: The Tim Lincecum Comparison