Rumors: Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians Discussing Corey Kluber Trade
By Kenneth Nash
Having already signed a pair of starting pitchers in free agency, the Texas Rangers are reportedly showing interest in trading for Corey Kluber.
While the Winter Meetings are over and the constant flow of rumors has died off considerably, fans of the Texas Rangers got a big one Saturday evening with Ken Rosenthal mentioning that the club is showing some interest in Indians’ ace, Corey Kluber.
This comes just a day after quotes form Jon Daniels seemed to eliminate the Rangers from pursuing trades involving players with only one or two years of control. The inference was that he was more or less taking Texas out of the running for Kris Bryant but this news regarding Kluber would’ve been quite the 180 considering Kluber’s contract runs for just two more years. That prompted Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News and Levi Weaver of The Athletic to check on the interest with both confirming that Texas is in the mix.
Curiously, less than an hour after noting that the Angels were “cautiously optimistic” on Kluber, Rosenthal tweeted that the Angels were indeed out of the running for Corey Kluber. The Dodgers are known suitors as are other teams but what this at least means is the Angels won’t add a frontline starter to their rotation days after inking Texas’ top free agent target Anthony Rendon to a seven-year contract.
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Kluber emerged as the ace of the Indians’ staff in 2014 when he broke out with a 7.2 fWAR season thanks to a 2.44 ERA and 10.27 K/9 rate in 34 starts. He would continue his dominance over the next four seasons recording an fWAR of 4.9 or higher each season 2015-18. He looked primed for another year of dominance in the Cleveland rotation last season before injuries derailed his season and limited him to seven starts and he posted a 5.80 ERA.
Still, the Rangers have to be enticed by the production in his last full season, 2018, when he made 33 starts and threw 215 innings. His 2018 numbers were stellar with a 2.89 ERA, a 3.12 FIP and a 5.5 fWAR. Those numbers would pair nicely with what Texas already has in its rotation and if Kluber has his past form, a guy who can be a true ace.
Obviously the injuries are a concern that Texas will have to take into account but Kluber’s age shouldn’t be overlooked either. The righty is 33 now and could be on the back end of his prime at this point. He also only has two years remaining on his contract assuming Teas would pick up his club option for 2021 at $18 million. While for a contender, a 33-year old with two years left might be a wise investment, it’s hard to imagine the Rangers really competing legitimately in 2020 and they’d have an outside shot the following season. That raises the question about plans held by the front office. Kluber may not cost as much in a trade as he would a year ago, but he won’t come cheap and are the Rangers really in a place to mortgage some of the future on a two-year starter. If this were to go through, perhaps Texas could try and get Kluber to commit to a longer deal. Maybe they have corresponding moves to jettison the team into contention. It’s an interesting connection that while exciting, would be a curious one that would have many fans wondering what’s next.