The Cleveland Indians traded two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and cash considerations to the Texas Rangers in exchange for outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. and right-handed pitching prospect Emmanuel Clase, it was announced Sunday.
Cleveland is sending $500,000 in cash to Texas, an amount that covers half of the $1-million assignment bonus Kluber is owed as a result of the trade, a source told Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.
Aside from that portion of the bonus, the Rangers will take on the entirety of Kluber's remaining contract, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Indians president Chris Antonetti told reporters that by dealing Kluber's contract, the team opened up payroll space and now has "more resources to reinvest in our team," according to Joe Noga of Cleveland.com. Antonetti also expects the Indians to remain "competitive" without the ace, per Tom Withers of The Associated Press.
Kluber made just seven starts for the Indians in 2019 due to a broken forearm and a separate oblique issue. He'll be paid $17.5 million in 2020 and $18 million in 2021 if his option is exercised. As a result of the trade, his 2021 club option will be converted to a vesting option that will be triggered if he throws 160 innings and avoids the injured list in 2020, according to Cot's Contracts.
The 33-year-old has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for the majority of his career. From 2014-18, he finished in the top three of AL Cy Young voting four times, winning the award in '14 and '17. His injury-riddled 2019 campaign snapped a run of five straight seasons with at least 200 innings pitched.
In 2018, his most recent full season, Kluber went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA, a 3.12 FIP, a 0.99 WHIP, and 222 strikeouts along with an AL-best 1.4 BB/9 rate in a league-leading 215 innings.
He'll now lead a solid Rangers rotation that has already been improved by general manager Jon Daniels this winter. The Rangers' signings of Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles added additional depth behind incumbent veterans Mike Minor and Lance Lynn.
DeShields is a five-year veteran entering his second year of arbitration. In 118 games for the Rangers last year, he slashed .249/.325/.347 with four homers, 32 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases while accruing six defensive runs saved and a 2.2 ultimate zone rating in center field.
The 27-year-old is projected to earn $2.4 million in 2020, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Clase - the Rangers' No. 30 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline prior to the trade - is a hard-throwing reliever who made his big-league debut in 2019 after flying through the organization's farm system. In 21 big-league appearances (including one start as an opener), the 21-year-old posted a 2.31 ERA, a 3.43 FIP, and a 1.11 WHIP with 21 strikeouts, six walks, and one save.