The Texas Rangers seem to prioritizing their starting rotation, with all but official to bring in Corey Kluber.
As the Texas Rangers prepare to move into a new ballpark, they are expected to be aggressive this offseason. According to multiple reports, they are close to getting Corey Kluber in a trade from the Cleveland Indians. Jon Heyman of MLB Network has specifically reported the deal is done, pending physicals.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. and right-handed pitcher Emmanuel Chase are for sure headed to the Indians in the deal, with more players expected to be on the way to Cleveland.
Last year will go down as a lost one for Kluber. He suffered a fractured forearm when he was hit by a comebacker on May 1, then an oblique strain derailed the hope for a return. Over the seven starts he made, he was simply not very good (5.80 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, career-worst 2.53 strikeout-to-walk ratio).
But over the previous five seasons, Kluber was in elite company as one of the top aces in baseball. He averaged 17 wins, 218 innings and 32 starts per season from 2014-2018, with a 2.85 ERA over that span. He finished top-three in American League Cy Young Award voting four times in those five seasons, winning the award twice (2014 and 2017).
The Indians picked up Kluber’s $17.5 million club option for 2020, which is the last guaranteed year of his contract. With the move to the Rangers, an $18 million club option ($1 million buyout) for 2021 becomes a vesting option based on innings and health. Rosenthal had some financial details.
Before making the deal for Kluber, the Rangers added Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles to their starting rotation in free agency. Mike Minor (14-10, 3.59 ERA, 208.1 innings) and Lance Lynn (16-11, 3.67 ERA, 208.1 innings) are coming off good 2019 campaigns, so suddenly Texas seems to have a solid 1-5.
Assuming health, somewhere between how bad he was last year when he did pitch and how great he was in the five years prior look like where Kluber will settle in as the Rangers No. 1 starter–let’s say 30-plus starts and 180-200 innings with an ERA between 3.50 and 4.00.