The buzzword of the 2018 Winter Meetings for baseball in Las Vegas, Nevada is Corey Kluber. The ace pitcher for the Cleveland Indians is apparently up for sale to the highest trade bidder. Kluber, age 32, is coming off a season of 2.89 ERA in 33 starts with a 20-7 record in 215 innings pitched. Kluber recorded 222 strikeouts and a WHIP under 1 (0.991). Once again, these numbers are better than his career averages (3.09 ERA, 1.070 WHIP). Despite this, the Indians are ready to trade him to another organization. This, fellow readers, is why ownership in baseball sucks.
The 2019 Cleveland Indians are practically guaranteed the American League Central title in 2019. The Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals are in the middle of deep rebuilds that are several seasons from percolating. The Minnesota Twins went from an underdog story in 2017 to a complete disaster in 2018, resulting in Paul Molitor’s firing. The only team that sits as any threat to the Indians in 2019 is the Chicago White Sox, who are about to depart their rebuild and go try to win it all. However, they are probably a year away from true contention (Possibly two if things do not go well in 2019.)
Kluber is one of the most team-friendly contracts for an ace in baseball. He is only to make $17 million out of a deal for $38.5MM. There are options on the end combined for $35.5 million for 2020 and 2021, which include Cy Young-based incentives and a $1 million buyout. A pitcher of Kluber’s caliber should be making $35 million per year right now. Instead, the Indians are paying him metaphorical pennies. No, $17 million a year is not pennies, but damn well under what Kluber should be making.
The Cleveland Indians just extended Carlos Carrasco through his age 36 season with a vesting option for 2023. If the Indians, who are playing the cheap card, have the money to give Carlos Carrasco $9.75 million in 2019, leading to $14 million in 2023, where is the money to pay Corey Kluber? Playing the cheap card does not buy you respect from your players or from the media. In fact, it buys you less respect. Most of these owners are billionaires who can afford higher payrolls each year. They choose to not do so.
There is exactly one route in which you could justify trading Corey Kluber: a total teardown, wipeout, metaphysical destruction of the team. The White Sox are coming, yes, but there is no reason to go on a tear down right now. A total teardown involves trading Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez as well, and no one can see the Indians even considering such an approach. So why do the same with a strength of yours (starting pitching) and then keep the team together as normal? It makes no sense. The Indians have no reason to tear it all down yet.
This is just Paul Dolan and the Indians being cheap. Prototypical baseball owner cheap. There is no reason to trade Corey Kluber, but they will anyway.
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