Following a fire that needed to be put out figuratively this week and literally on Saturday, the Rangers released a flame on the trade market Sunday morning. Confirmed by the Athletic, Texas acquired ace Corey Kluber from the Cleveland Indians for center fielder Delino DeShields and hard-throwing reliever Emmanuel Clase. According to Ken Rosenthal, Kluber is owed 17.5 million in 2020, and has a vesting option in 2021.
Kluber is owed $17.5M in 2020. With a trade, his $18M club option for ‘21 will convert to a vesting option that becomes guaranteed if Kluber pitches 160 innings in ‘20 and is not on the injured list at the end of the season.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 15, 2019
Kluber was a San Diego Padres draftee back in 2007 from Stetson University but is a native of Coppell, Texas. Yes, you heard me the Coppell native is heading back home, and there’s a great chance he could be the first pitcher to take the hill in new Globe Life Field come March 31st. In 2010, Kluber became a part of a three-team deal with San Diego, St. Louis, and Cleveland. The Cardinals acquired Nick Greenwood, the Padres got former Ranger, Ryan Ludwick, and the Indians got Corey Kluber from that 2010 deadline triangle trade.
The 2019 campaign for Corey Kluber was not too kind. With a string of injuries that included an oblique strain and a broken forearm, Kluber managed seven starts and allowed twenty-three earned runs in thirty-five innings pitched. However, previous to 2019, he had an incredible five-year stretch where he won two Cy-Youngs, pitched seventeen complete games, seven complete-game shutouts, and pitched 200+ innings in all five of those seasons.
Previous to 2019 where he was limited due to injury, Corey Kluber finished in the top 10 in the CY Young 5 straight years (2014-2018), 3 straight All-Star appearances, (2016-2018), and finished in the top 20 in MVP voting 3 times in a span of 4 years (2014, 2016, 2017) #Rangers
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) December 15, 2019
What does this trade mean?
The Rangers were nationally criticized for their conservative approach last week while watching their division rival, the Angels, nab Anthony Rendon, the third baseman that Texas coveted. The trade with Cleveland looks a lot like a response to that criticism. Starting pitching was an aspect the Rangers were shopping for, but small acquisitions like Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson made the public think maybe Texas would hold off on any big splashes there this winter.
Delino heading to Cleveland means that the center field position is vacant. Chris Woodward mentioned multiple times that center field is Danny Santana’s best position, therefore I wouldn’t be surprised if Santana is the front runner, or if Texas really wants to give Joey Gallo another shot in center. The Rangers did have to part ways with an electrifying reliever in Emmanuel Clase, but the Rangers do have other closing options in the farm system or if the club could hold off on trading Jose LeClerc, who was rumored to be a part of a deal with the New York Mets earlier this week.
There is another twist to that trade, the Rangers are still shopping for a third baseman. The Kluber trade could push the Rangers to trade guys like Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, capitalizing on their 2019 success. Nevertheless, Rangers fandom just got the excitement back after a demoralizing winter meetings in San Diego this past week. If Texas chooses to hang the towel up in the trade market, a combination of Kluber, Minor, and Lynn strikes fear into opposing hitters in a way that probably hasn’t happened before in Arlington. If that’s the case, the Rangers may just become a pitching team (I can’t believe I just said that).
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