The Indians Should Trade Pitcher Corey Kluber Now - Five Reasons as to Why
Where there's smoke, there's usually almost fire, and with the Indians, that smoke at the moment surrounds the rumors over and over that the team is going to eventually deal ace pitcher Corey Kluber.
The two-time Cy Young award winner is coming off his first 20-win season, but the Tribe has a mountain of holes to fill after trades and losing free agents, and the best way to fill that hole is to trade from a position of strength, that being the starting rotation.
The team will surely get slammed (as if that's anything new) if and when they trade Kluber, and right now the scuttlebutt is that two NL West teams, the Dodgers and Padres have their eyes on getting the Tribe ace.
Baseball is a business, and for the Indians, dealing Kluber will come down to it being a business deal, and today we take a look at why this eventual trade will be a good thing in the long run for the Indians as they get ready for the 2019 season.
1. Still the Best Rotation in the Central
How does this sound for a starting rotation if Kluber is indeed sent packing?
Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Adam Plutko.
Not bad - right? It's still the very best rotation in the American League Central, and while many will say "who cares what about teams like the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros," the first thing you have to do is win the division before you even think about those three teams.
Let's also remember, the Indians pitching, while not perfect by any means, isn't the reason they made a first-round exit the last two seasons in the postseason.
This team can be just fine with the starting five as stated above, and at times with Kluber's injuries have forced to the team pitch without him anyway, and they have still managed to win three straight division titles.
2. Kluber Wearing Down?
While he's been sensational when on the mound, there's been some concern over the past few years about the injuries mounting for Corey Kluber, and sending him elsewhere now might be a blessing for the team when it comes to those injuries.
Back, knee, ankle, all things that have forced Kluber to miss time over the last few years, and as Indians legend Len Barker said a few weeks ago at the Wahoo Club, once the injuries mount (along with the fact that Kluber will be 33 in April), it's harder and harder to bounce back.
The Indians have had eight great seasons with Kluber, and his two Cy Young years will always be remembered, but the value the Tribe can get back for Kluber might be at its highest right now.
3. Filling Holes
The names that have been thrown around for Kluber coming out of the national pundits who know the Dodgers and Padres roster have included the likes of Yasiel Puig (who has since been dealt to the Reds), and now from the Padres Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges.
All four of these players are current Major League starters, meaning that no matter how you cut it, the Indians are going to get back players that can be placed right in the lineup now if they send Kluber packing, which is what this team needs.
With the departure of Michael Brantley, there's potentially two holes in the outfield (left and right), and Yan Gomes' deal to the Nationals means the team could use more depth at the catcher spot.
The Indians have stayed patient when it comes to talks to deal Kluber and haven't just rushed to make a deal, meaning that they are going to get the most for their return.
4. Bieber and Plutko
The Indians have a solid back of the rotation set of arms that can step right in should a deal for Kluber go down, two guys that due to injuries got a chance at the Major League level last season.
Shane Bieber was a stud by the end of the year, winning 11 games and showing that he can be a solid 4th or 5th stater for the team.
Yes his numbers did fall off a bit by the end of the year and his ERA of 4.55 was a bit of a concern, but for a guy to step in and throw as well as he did was impressive.
Adam Plutko is another name to keep an eye on, and he can improve his stock by throwing well in Goodyear this spring for the team.
He went 4-5 for the Tribe with a 5.28 ERA in 12 starts, and did have some appearances out of the pen as well.
Other pitchers that the team will look at that could have an impact in a Kluber trade include Danny Salazar and Cody Anderson, two guys that hopefully will have a chip on their shoulders to want to be involved in the starting rotation mix in 2019 if Kluber isn't around.
5. Trust in the Front Office
The Indians very well might not be a finished product even by the time they take the field in late March, and two guys that can have a lot of say about what way they go is GM Mike Chernoff and President Chris Antonetti.
These two have done a solid job in keeping the Indians competitive despite losing players, and while there's always complaints about the team losing players, you have to trust in this front office to make solid deals to keep this team in the mix for one of the best teams in the AL.
This offseason has been tough with deals to trade away middle of the lineup players and losing a number of free agents, but there's plenty of time and moves this team can make to get this roster back to form.
Last summer they were aggressive in trying to fix the bullpen, going out and dealing with the Padres for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, and also they grabbed outfielder Leonys Martin, but he was gone quickly due to a bacterial infection that ended his season.
Keep the faith that the front office will get the job done, and will be able to get this team to a point where they can challenge for a title in 2019.