Indians, Kluber finalize $38.5M, 5-year contract
CLEVELAND (AP) Corey Kluber has financial security, and the Indians figure to have their ace for at least five more years.
The AL Cy Young winner finalized a $38.5 million, five-year contract on Sunday, a package that ties Kluber to Cleveland through the 2019 season.
''I wanted to be here. I wanted to be in Cleveland,'' Kluber said. ''That was the driving force behind it for me.''
Kluber, who went 18-9 last season, gets a $1 million signing bonus and $1 million this year, an increase from $601,000 under the one-year deal he agreed to last month.
He receives $4.5 million next year, $7.5 million in 2017, $10.5 million in 2018 and $13 million in 2019. Cleveland has a $13.5 million option for 2020 with a $1 million buyout, and if that is exercised, the Indians have a $14 million option for 2021 with a $1 million buyout.
Cleveland signed a young core of players to long-term deals. The club has already locked up outfielder Michael Brantley (through 2017) and catcher Yank Gomes and second baseman Jason Kipnis (though 2019). The Indians are close to a deal with No. 2 starter Carlos Carrasco through 2018.
Indians manager Terry Francona knows the team doesn't have the resources to compete for the most expensive free agents as it seeks its first World Series title since 1948.
''We can't be the trendsetters. We know that,'' he said. ''We do want our guys to stay here. We want them to be happy. We want them to be proud to be an Indian, and I think this goes a long way in showing that.''
The 28-year-old Kluber would have been eligible for arbitration next winter and for free agency after the 2018 season.
''Because of what Cory has accomplished as a Cy Young Award winner prior to going into the arbitration process, there are very few guys that you can look to that have had that type of success, and the ones that had didn't sign long-term deals,'' Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said.
''That made it a very unique landscape to navigate and ultimately it led us to a point where we offered more guarantee than any pre-arbitration-eligible pitcher had received,'' he added. ''But in exchange for that, we were able to secure Corey's future here for well past his arbitration years and potentially into three free agent years. In the end, we thought that that was a risk worth taking in order to secure Corey's future here for a long time.''
Kluber emerged last season as the club's top pitcher and one of the league's best in his first full year in the majors. He became just the fourth pitcher since 1987 to win 18 games, post a sub-2.50 ERA and strike out at least 260. Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson are the only other pitchers to accomplish the feat in the past 28 years, and the Indians are hoping Kluber can come close to those numbers again.
The Indians and Kluber's agent, B.B. Abbott, had on-and-off negotiations during training camp and were able to finalize the deal a day before he pitches the season opener in Houston.
Carrasco's deal could be next.
According to a person familiar with the talks, the sides are working toward finalizing in writing a four-year contract worth about $22 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the deal was still being worked on and Carrasco has to take a physical before the agreement is completed.
Carrasco had Tommy John surgery in 2011 and emerged as a dependable starter last season, going 8-7 with a 2.55 ERA in 40 games. He was one of the AL's most dominant pitchers over the final two months, recording a 1.70 ERA after Aug. 1.
Kluber and Carrasco give the Indians a 1-2 punch as potent as any in the AL Central.
''It was one of the highlights of our season last year to watch Carlos take all of the potential that he's shown in the past and then combine that with a really aggressive mindset,'' Antonetti said. ''We're counting on him to be a big part of our rotation, not only this year but moving forward.''
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.