12/15 15:27 CST Indians trade two-time Cy Young winner Kluber to Rangers
Indians trade two-time Cy Young winner Kluber to Rangers
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) --- Corey Kluber led by example and excellence in Cleveland. The
Texas Rangers are hoping he can do the same for them.
The Indians traded the two-time Cy Young Award winner --- and their
unquestioned ace --- over the past six seasons to the Rangers on Sunday, a
blockbuster deal that could dramatically change both teams.
In exchange for the 33-year-old Kluber, Cleveland received outfielder Delino
DeShields and pitching prospect Emmanuel Clase, a hard-throwing 21-year-old
reliever with "electric stuff."
Indians president Chris Antonetti said he received calls from numerous teams
with interest in Kluber. But the offer from Texas made the most sense for
Cleveland because it included players who can have an immediate impact and
"help us be a better team in 2020."
But dealing the stoic and steady Kluber wasn't easy.
Since the Indians acquired him in a 2010 trade with San Diego, he has blossomed
into one of baseball's most dominant pitchers. Kluber won his first Cy Young in
2014, when he went 18-9 and added No. 2 in 2017 after going 18-4 and leading
the AL with a 2.25 ERA.
But his future with the money-conscious Indians grew more uncertain last season
when the club managed to stay in the playoff chase until late September despite
not having him after May 1.
Kluber broke his right forearm when he was struck by a line drive during a
start at Miami and never made it back. He came close to returning to the
Indians' rotation but suffered an oblique injury during a minor league rehab
appearance that ended his comeback.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the injuries that Kluber dealt with
last season "don't necessarily give us pause," and believes the time off could
be a positive after all his innings pitched in previous seasons.
"The start of last season wasn't going to the way he's accustomed of pitching,
and I think the time off may give him a little time to reset and get his body
fresh," Daniels said. "He feels like he's in a really good spot."
Daniels described Kluber, who is on vacation on the West Coast, as "genuinely
excited" about the deal.
The Indians, who won 93 games last season, picked up his $17.5 million contract
option for 2020 immediately after last season. Because they have a solid group
of young pitchers under contract and other needs, however, the club made the
decision to deal a popular player.
"These are exceedingly difficult deals to make, but they're important deals for
us," Antonetti said. "If you think back to the way in which we acquired Corey
was we traded an established, popular, veteran starting pitcher in Jake
Westbrook for, at the time, an unheralded pitcher in Double-A with the San
"If you look at our teams over the course of the last seven seasons and the
success we've had has been, in a large degree, attributed to guys who we've
acquired in similar-type trades. So, they're painful trades to make often
times, but they're trades that make sense and help us be a better team moving
A three-time All-Star, Kluber went 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA over his nine seasons
with the Indians. But beyond his impressive stats, Kluber showed Cleveland's
young pitchers what it took to be a professional with his diligent training
regimen and meticulous preparation for every start.
Before getting hurt last season, Kluber was struggling and there was growing
concern a high number of innings and fastballs were beginning to have a
cumulative effect on him. He pitched at least 203 innings in each of the
previous five seasons while recording more than 200 strikeouts in each of those
seasons as well.
The deal involving Kluber may not be the only one executed by the Indians this
winter. The club could part ways with All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, who
has turned down multiyear contract offers from the Indians in the past.
Lindor is under Cleveland's control through 2021 season, but because the
Indians won't be able to compete for him on the free-agent market, they may be
forced to trade him to ensure they get something if he leaves.
Antonetti said the immediate plan is to hang onto Lindor.
"I have every expectation that Francisco Lindor will be our starting shortstop
opening day next year," he said.
Kluber's deal will be another tough one to digest for Indians fans, who have
seen the club trade CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee --- also Cy Young winners --- in
The 27-year-old DeShields gives Cleveland another outfield option and some
speed. He hit .249 with 24 stolen bases for Texas last season.
Clase, too, has promise. He skipped the Triple-A level last season and made his
big league debut with the Rangers in August, going 2-3 with a 2.31 ERA in
mostly a relief role.
After their third consecutive losing season since back-to-back AL West titles
in 2015 and 2016, Texas went into this offseason wanting to bolster its
rotation around returning All-Star left-hander Mike Minor and right-hander
Lance Lynn, who combined for 30 wins last season. The Rangers have now added
three new starters this month.
Before the deal for Kluber, who is from Coppell, Texas, about 25 miles from the
new Rangers ballpark, the team had already signed free agent right-handers
Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson to multiyear deals.
"We feel like we've addressed our rotation in a way that we're pretty excited
about," Daniels said.
The Rangers are moving next season into a new $1.2 billion stadium, being built
across the street from the ballpark they called home the past 26 seasons.
Texas went 78-84, then missed out on a pair of free-agent targets at the recent
winter meetings, watching star pitcher Gerrit Cole and slugger Anthony Rendon
sign with other teams.
Antonetti said the clubs will split a $1 million assignment bonus for Kluber
for getting traded.
Because he was dealt, his $18 million club option for 2021 would become
guaranteed if he pitches 160 innings next year and is not on the injured list
at the end of the season.
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