Cleveland Indians: The Corey Kluber trade is a slap in the face

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Time will tell what the Cleveland Indians do next, but at face value, the Corey Kluber trade is a step in the wrong direction on the part of ownership.

I’m aware of the possibility for the Cleveland Indians to make supplemental moves this winter in the wake of Sunday’s trade of Corey Kluber, a deal that sent the longtime ace to the Texas Rangers. I’m aware that they freed up $17 million that can now be redistributed around the roster, if the shot-callers are so inclined.

I’m aware that the Kluber trade may have laid the groundwork for an aggressive and exciting winter, one which may ultimately allow for some increased optimism among the fan base.

And I don’t care. About any of it.

From where I stand, this trade needed to be about something other than spending money versus saving it, reallocating said savings to maximize value, trading from a position of strength to address other areas of the roster, or even striking while the iron is hot and accepting the best offer on the table for a highly coveted player.

What’s worse is that among these four factors, only saving money can be definitively pointed to as having had any impact on Cleveland’s ultimate decision. We don’t know if the Indians will spend what they saved in the deal.

As for the return, Delino DeShields is basically Greg Allen without the ability to hit from both sides of the plate. The Indians were hardly in need of another fringe outfielder. Emmanuel Clase is a young, high-ceiling reliever with an anti-aircraft gun attached to his right shoulder. Acquiring him is all well and good, but at the expense of the Indians’ best pitcher since Bob Feller?

If this was the best offer available for a two-time Cy Young winner, then there are at least a half-dozen pitching-needy teams out there who should reevaluate what they’re willing to part with in trade negotiations. The Indians, who are in need of at least one everyday position player, acquired zero in this deal.

But again, the decision on whether or not to trade Kluber should have been based on more than all of this anyway. For a team already wading through the muck of an ongoing public relations swamp revolving around the will-they-won’t-they Francisco Lindor trade saga, the Indians’ front office needed a show of good faith to a restless fan base.

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  • Instead, they broke down the contract of the club’s best and most beloved starting pitcher of at least the last decade, and sold it for parts. What’s more: forget about the surface-level message this trade sends to Indians fans. What about Kluber himself?

    “Hey, thanks for almost winning us a World Series by yourself. Thanks for playing such a vital role in establishing our franchise as a perennial playoff contender for the last four years, for winning two Cy Young awards, and for setting an example for a pitching staff comprised largely of young, developing players during your tenure here. Oh, by the way, you’ve been traded for pennies on the dollar, because your salary, while still team-friendly in the grand scheme of things, is simply too much for us to roll the dice on you again after last year, despite everything you’ve given us.”

    Trevor Bauer, the most polarizing player the Indians have rostered since Albert Belle, was given a more heartfelt sendoff at last year’s trade deadline. And let’s not even compare the packages the Indians received in return for Bauer and Kluber, because the disparity is laughable.

    Baseball is a business, first and foremost. I won’t pretend not to know that, as unfortunate a reality as it is. And as someone who lives and dies by the ups and downs of a small-market baseball team, I’ve tried to maintain a relatively even-keeled perspective on how the Indians go about that business.

    With that even-keeled outlook comes a tendency to give the Indians’ top decision-makers the benefit of the doubt more often than not. But this decision is one I cannot get behind, and I’m not even sure it matters what the Indians do next.

    Maybe what’s next is that show of good faith we’ve been waiting for. Maybe the Indians do go all-in after this, finally committing to surrounding Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana, and what remains of the pitching staff with the best possible supporting cast. If that is indeed what’s to come, the Indians have a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of a fan base teetering on the brink of completely losing faith in ownership.

    Next. The surprising return in the Corey Kluber trade. dark

    But they’ll never get the chance to atone for coldly shipping away an all-time great player in franchise history, in the midst of a so-called championship window to boot. And Corey Kluber deserved better than that.