The Texas Rangers have ended the Corey Kluber Watch, acquiring the righty from the Cleveland Indians. It essentially amounts to a salary dump by the Indians, with Kluber set to earn $17.5 million this season with an $18 million club option for 2021.
The move ends Kluber's nine-year tenure in Cleveland, in which he was a two-time Cy Young victor and three-time All-Star with a career ERA of 3.16.
Kluber may have turned his season around in a similar way in 2019 but never got the chance, and those seven starts are too small a sample size to write off one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Despite the injuries this past season, there is no questioning Kluber's status as one of the elite pitchers of this generation.
Kluber spent nine Major League seasons with the Tribe after being acquired from the San Diego Padres back in 2010. The option becomes guaranteed if Kluber throws 160 innings in 2020 and is not on the injured list at the end of the season. He did not look like an ace when he was on the mound, posting a 5.80 ERA and a 1.654 WHiP over his 35.2 innings.
Kluber must be viewed as a question mark, however, and even if the Indians really like Clase, the return suggests there wasn't much interest out there in Kluber - that teams weren't willing to give up much value in addition to absorbing his salary. His forearm injury snapped a run of five straight seasons with at least 200 innings pitched. Cleveland has several young solid pitchers, including Shane Bieber and Mike Bieber, on its staff and can address other needs in return for Kluber.