The Cleveland Indians have won more than 90 games each of the past four seasons with three AL Central titles in that span, but big changes are coming to the Indians.
With rumors of a Francisco Lindor trade still floating around, the Indians have reportedly dealt two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to the Rangers. The return package from the Rangers is still being reported, but so far Delino DeShields Jr. and Emmanuel Clase are going the other way.
OF Delino DeShields Jr. and RHP Emmanuel Clase heading to #Indians for Kluber, source tells The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 15, 2019
Hearing the Kluber trade is the 2-for-1. No cash involved.— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) December 15, 2019
DeShields Jr. is a 27-year-old speedster who has struggled offensively since debuting with the Rangers in 2015. He has a career .668 OPS with a .591 OPS in 2018 and a .672 OPS last season. For comparison, White Sox outfielder Adam Engel had a .614 OPS in 2018 and a .687 OPS in 2019.
Clase is a 21-year-old relief prospect who debuted with the Rangers last season. He is a hard-thrower, capable of reaching 102 with his fastball while also getting cut action on it. Clase had a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings in the majors in 2019. Still, he is only rated as the No. 30 prospect in the Rangers’ system by MLB Pipeline.
The Kluber trade is relevant to the White Sox because it’s a division power trading away a key player for younger, less established talent. It also shows the price to pay for a noteworthy pitcher in a trade.
If the White Sox fail to land a marquee starting pitcher in free agency, trade is the next route.
Kluber was a stud for the Indians from 2014-2018. He surpassed 200 innings each of those seasons and had a 2.85 ERA in that five-year period.
However, last year Kluber was limited to 35.2 innings in seven starts after getting hit by a line drive on May 1. He fractured his right arm, which is of course important for a right-handed pitcher. Even before the injury, Kluber struggled with a 5.80 ERA and the highest walk rate of his career (15 in 35.2 innings).
The Indians didn’t win the AL Central last season, but the fact that they won 93 games with only seven mostly ineffective starts from Kluber is a sign that he may not be as essential to them as he was in previous years.
Perhaps the return for Kluber is more a sign of a lack of belief in him after a tough 2019, but this level of package is something the White Sox could put together without trading a core piece of the future.
With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.
You saw this one coming, right?
As the Cubs’ longest tenure player, Anthony Rizzo was a shoo-in for this group. He hasn’t relinquished his starting first baseman job since making his Cubs debut in June 2012. The guy’s longevity alone is impressive.
But besides that, Rizzo has been a model of consistency during his time on the North Side. Since 2012, he’s hit 217 home runs (averaging 27 per season) and hit 32 three times from 2014-17. The lone exception? 2015, when he hit 31. So close…
As a Cub, Rizzo is a .277/.376/.496 hitter with a 132 OPS+. He produces at a high clip each season, whether he’s hitting third, cleanup or leadoff, all while simultaneously playing stellar defense. The 30-year-old is a three-time Gold Glove Award winner (2016, 2018-19).
Rizzo is the guy who comes up huge in key moments but will be there to address the media after tough losses. He’s the de facto captain of the Cubs, the guy who suffered a nasty ankle sprain in September that could have ended his regular season. Instead, he returned four days later for a key series against the rival Cardinals, as the Cubs were fighting to keep their October dreams alive.
When he’s not leading his team on the field, Rizzo is giving back to the community off of it. He’s one of the most charitable athletes in the world and recently raised $1.3 million for children’s cancer research at his “8th annual Walk-off for Cancer” in his home state of Florida.
Rizzo was the first building block of the Cubs core which snapped their infamous 108-year championship drought, but he’ll be remembered for more than that. He’s a leader on and off the field, the clear choice for starting first baseman on our Cubs All-Decade Team.
Also considered: Derrek Lee, Bryan LaHair