As the Cleveland Indians inevitably shift into sell-mode, these five teams should have interest in Corey Kluber.
Entering action on Monday, the Cleveland Indians trail the Minnesota Twins by 10.5 games in the AL Central. With a loss and a Twins win on Sunday, the climb is an uphill one for Cleveland and barring a historic collapse the Indians will find themselves on the fringes of the Wild Card race at best.
Resting on their laurels during the offseason has bit the Indians. An enviably good starting rotation has been hit by injuries and in the case of Carlos Carrasco, a medical situation. That includes Corey Kluber, who suffered a broken arm after being hit by a comebacker on May 1 He had a 5.80 ERA over seven starts (35.2 innings) before being sidelined, spurred by an increased walk rate (3.8 BB/9), but his K/9 (9.6) was in line with his track record and a 3.99 FIP points to some bad fortune.
Trade rumors surfaced surrounded Kluber during the offseason, but nothing came to fruition. The fact he is out right now curbs that kind of talk in the short-term, but he had his cast removed toward the end of May and is set to be re-evaluated this coming week
Three months was considered a possible timetable for Kluber to return. But with only one trade deadline this year (July 31), contending teams may consider a deal for him with the expectation he’ll contribute from August on.
Kluber is in the final fully guaranteed year of his contract, with club options for 2020 ($17.5 million) and 2021 ($18 million) and a $1 million buyout for each of those years. The team control aspect will be a factor for teams with any interest, but Kluber is also a rental in a certain respect.
Assuming Kluber is continuing to progress in his recovery from a fractured ulna, these five teams should consider making a deal for the two-time Cy Young winner.
5. San Diego Padres
The Padres were the team rumored to be interested in Kluber during the offseason, with the idea they would then flip him in a deal elsewhere. But there’s a case for them to circle back to the Indians now.
At .500 entering Monday (33-33), the Padres are 3.5 back of the NL Wild Card lead. A young starting rotation could use a proven veteran, to say nothing of the possibility of an innings limit for guys like Chris Paddack or Eric Lauer.
San Diego can deal from the best farm system around to get Kluber, or anyone else for that matter. The question will be how they see themselves this year, a little bit ahead of the planned timeline to contend right now.