As the MLB Hot Stove continued to blaze in recent days, rumors swirled regarding two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, and the potential that the Indians would deal him. The speculation became reality this morning, when the Texas Rangers officially acquired the right handed ace.
Trade Perspective: Texas Rangers
This was a lucrative move for the Rangers, as they have added the services of Kluber for pennies on the dollar. Texas parted with relief prospect Emmanuel Clase and center-fielder Delino DeShields, Jr. in return for Kluber, which seems like a very light haul in exchange for a pitcher who won the AL Cy Young Award just two seasons ago.
Texas’ acquisition of Kluber is a timely one as well, given the opening of their new ballpark this spring (despite it catching fire yesterday). Kluber is a worthy veteran to take the ball on Opening Day at the brand-new Globe Life Field, and will strengthen a rotation that was extremely top-heavy last season. Despite featuring the exceptional duo of Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, the Rangers’ rotation posted a putrid 5.37 ERA, ranking twenty-fifth in MLB.
With their pair of aces, Texas was among only four Major League teams (Astros, Dodgers, and Nationals) to boast two top-eight finishers in Cy Young voting. The Rangers hope that the addition and return to health of Kluber, along with similar performances from Minor and Lynn, will lead to Texas’ rotation becoming one of the strongest in all of baseball in 2020. Texas also added decent back-end starters in Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles, which should provide further depth to their staff.
Kluber was also attractive to the Rangers because he will be fairly cheap going forward, given the exorbitant amounts that starting pitchers have been fetching on the open market this winter. The righthander is owed $17.5 million in 2020, and his contract includes an $18 million club option for ‘21.
Trade Perspective: Cleveland Indians
To put it bluntly, this was an indefensible move from the ownership of the Cleveland Indians. To trade away one of the very best pitchers in franchise history for essentially a bag of peanuts is an inexcusable decision by the Tribe.
What makes the situation even worse is that this move was, for all intents and purposes, a salary dump for the Indians. Kluber’s value is at an all-time low this offseason, due to his injury struggles in 2019. He only started only seven games for Cleveland in ‘19, posting a 5.80 ERA in just 35.2 innings pitched. If the Indians were hellbent on trading their star pitcher, they should have waited until Kluber theoretically rebuilt his value with a strong start to the 2020 season.
There was absolutely no argument for the Indians pulling the trigger on a Kluber trade now, aside from their cash-greedy ownership insisting on lowering payroll at the expense of actually fielding a good baseball team.
It is preposterous that this question even needs to be asked, but what should be the primary goal of a Major League ownership? The answer is simple and obvious: to build a championship-caliber club in service to their city and committed fanbase.
However, the ongoing plague of greed around much of Major League Baseball has halted the competitive efforts of many clubs, especially those of smaller-market teams like the Indians.
Cleveland has not claimed a World Series Title since 1948, which is the longest active championship drought for any team among the four major professional North American sports.
There is not going to be an Indians title parade in Cleveland any time soon, and the trade of Kluber punctuates that fact. In the last calendar year (give or take a few weeks) the Indians, with the goal of shedding payroll, have let go or traded away Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnación, and Trevor Bauer, among others. To get a sense of the local fans’ cumulative reaction to the Kluber deal, all one must do is scroll through the comments on the Indians’ twitter post announcing the trade.
The epidemic of Major League teams dumping all-star caliber players in the name of simply saving money is disgusting, and is a disgrace to the loyal fans of these teams, and to the sport as a whole. For the overall integrity of Major League Baseball, we must hope these practices soon come to an end.