Rangers Bolster Rotation By Adding Corey Kluber From Indians
The Rangers made their second major move of the offseason on Sunday when they swung a trade to acquire Corey Kluber and cash considerations from the Indians in exchange for a pair of big leaguers. Kluber, a two-time Cy Young Award winner (2014, 2017) missed most of 2019 with a broken forearm and a strained oblique and was ineffective when healthy.
In exchange, the Indians acquired speedy outfielder Delino Deshields Jr. and hard-throwing reliever Emmanuel Clase, who rose to the big leagues in 2019 after finishing 2018 in the short-season Northwest League.
The move gives the Rangers an intriguing rotation potentially fronted by Kluber, Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. Newcomer Jordan Lyles should also be in that mix, as will a host of other possible back-end pieces.
From Cleveland's point of view, the Kluber deal—combined with the trade of Trevor Bauer last offseason—could set the stage for further deals in the coming weeks and months as the team attempts shed players with currently high salaries or those whose salaries could quickly become expensive.
Corey Kluber, RHP
Coming off a year in which he pitched just 35.2 innings because of injury, Kluber is primed for a bounce-back in 2020. He is slated to make $17.5 million in each of the next two years of his deal (both years are club options on the back of the six-year pact he signed before the 2015 season. Prior to 2019, Kluber had shown no signs of wearing down. He finished third in the Cy Young voting in 2018, led the American League with just 1.4 walks per nine innings and put together his fifth straight season with 200 or more strikeouts. Assuming a return to health, the Rangers will open their new stadium with a prime-age ace.
Delino Deshields Jr., OF
The classic fourth outfielder, DeShields offers speed in abundance. He's stolen 20 or more bases in each of the last three seasons despite never playing more than 120 games. He has no power to speak of (career .342 slugging percentage) and provides most of his value (1.3 wins above replacement in 2019, per Baseball Reference) in center field and on the bases.
Emmanuel Clase, RHP
In 2019, Clase rose to the majors at a rate few could match. He closed the 2018 season in the short-season Northwest League playoffs, then spent seven innings with high Class A Down East, then another 37.2 innings with Double-A Frisco before making his big league debut on Aug. 4. When Clase got to the majors, it was easy to see why the minors were no match. The righthander—whom the Padres had dealt to Texas in 2018 for outfielder Brett Nicholas—showed off a triple-digit cutter that touched as high as 101. Per Statcast, Clase's four-seam fastball and cutter each averaged a tick above 99 mph. Those values gave him the fourth-hardest four-seamer and the fastest cutter in the league. When Clase wants to use something other than a fastball, he can turn to a low-90s slider, which he threw roughly 20 percent of the time in the big leagues. Clase still could stand to iron out his command and control, but the Indians are acquiring one of the most live-armed relievers in the game.