Chicago Cubs: Corey Kluber
In my column about blockbuster trades, I wrote about the possibility (or lack thereof) that Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians could come to the Chicago Cubs. I determined that it’s unlikely, but another big name that the Indians could be trying to move this offseason is Corey Kluber.
Kluber had a rough 2019, posting a 5.80 ERA in just seven starts while missing most of the year due to injury. This past year aside, there’s no denying that he’s one of the game’s elite pitchers: From 2014 to 2018, he finished in the top three in American League Cy Young Award voting four times, including winning it in 2014 and 2017.
Like with Lindor, the Indians would be looking to shed payroll if they deal Kluber, as he’s owed $17.5 million for 2020 after the Indians decided to pick up his option. (Kluber’s contract includes an $18 million team option for 2021.) Perhaps the Indians didn’t want to let Kluber, who will be 34 in April, go for nothing and picked up the option hoping they could get a decent package in return via trade. The Indians won 93 games in 2019, and given the current state of the AL Central, they likely won’t be doing a rebuild in the near future. If the Cubs make Kyle Schwarber available this offseason, it would make sense that he could be part of a deal.
Still, the Indians may be better off holding onto Kluber for now. His trade value isn’t as high as it would have been a year ago. It’s hard to envision the Cubs giving up a lot for him, especially given his high salary for next year.