It’s been more than a month now since the Dodgers have been tied to Cleveland ace Corey Kluber in trade talks, and needless to say, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride. Seemingly, there was a point a few weeks ago where the sides were supposedly close to a deal; yet, there was another juncture when the Indians were believed to have taken their ace off the table completely.
Regardless of what’s already happened, the Dodgers are still corresponding with Cleveland, according to Jon Morosi on Wednesday. Morosi notes there are several other teams involved, including the Padres, Phillies, Brewers and Reds.
However, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune followed Morosi’s report with information saying that the Padres were not in on Kluber, but are instead more focused on acquiring a third baseman. Initially, Morosi speculated that the Indians could have been interested in San Diego outfielder Manuel Margot.
As far as Los Angeles goes, it has been implied that the Indians are asking for Alex Verdugo as the centerpiece of a proposed deal, but if it was just solely Verdugo that Cleveland wanted, surely a trade would have happened by now. In the same breath, Verdugo may be the biggest bargaining chip left for the Dodgers, so if he’s sent away early, it takes many other scenarios off the board. One of those could be the pursuit of catcher J.T. Realmuto. Several weeks back, the Marlins were believed to have asked for a package to be built around first baseman and outfielder Cody Bellinger.
Based on what transpired in the recent seven-player trade with the Reds, one would assume that the Dodgers likely offered up Yasiel Puig and/or Matt Kemp in a package to acquire Kluber. From the very beginning, though, it appeared as if Cleveland was interested in a young, controllable outfielder(s), and at the same time, players who were major league ready.
It’s still tough to figure out why Cleveland wants to move Kluber, aside from removing salary from the club’s payroll. The Indians were reported to be happy with where the club’s payroll stood after it dumped Edwin Encarnacion in a three-team deal with the Mariners and the Rays, yet the trade rumors continue to swirl.
Kluber’s set to earn an even $17 million in 2019 along with team options that run through the end of the 2021 season.
That salary would be a bargain, unless there’s something happening mechanically or healthwise for which scouts and pundits are oblivious. The two-time Cy Young Award winner has thrown for 200 innings the last five seasons, and he’s won 18 games each of the past three years. Seemingly, he’s throwing better than ever, as his ERA has been under 3.00 and his WHIP under 1.00 over the last two seasons. On top of that, his 1.4 BB/9 last year was a career low.
While someone of Kluber’s caliber would certainly be an upgrade, many pundits feel that the catching spot should be the Dodgers’ biggest priority when it comes to cap space or shipping out valuable prospects.