Report: Cubs “on the fringes” for free agent outfielder Michael Bourn

6 Comments

UPDATE: So much for that. Carrie Muskat, who covers the Cubs for MLB.com, writes that Bourn to the Cubs is “not happening.” Could this be a case of Bourn’s agent, Scott Boras, making a last-ditch effort to create a market for his client?

8:06 PM: There’s been plenty of chatter over the past couple of weeks about a possible match between the Mets and Michael Bourn, but otherwise the market for the free agent outfielder has been eerily quiet. However, it seems there is one potential landing spot that has flown under the radar.

The Cubs currently project to begin the season with Alfonso Soriano in left field, David DeJesus in center field and a platoon of Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston in right field. If the Cubs were to swoop in and sign Bourn, they could move DeJesus into a corner and try to find a suitor for Soriano, who still has two years and $36 million left on his contract. Of course, they’d have to eat a big portion of his remaining contract to make that happen and Soriano has the ability to veto any deal.

While FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has also listed the Cubs as a possibility, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times doesn’t see Bourn coming at a steep enough discount to be a realistic fit.

Indians trade Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Cleveland Indians have traded two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers. In exchange, Texas is sending center fielder Delino DeShields and pitcher Emmanuel Clase to the Indians. There are reports that the Indians will be getting more than just those two players, but no word yet. The deal is pending physical.

Kluber made only seven starts this past year thanks to a broken arm and a strained oblique muscle. When he did pitch he was no great shakes, posting a 5.80 ERA and 44 hits in 35.2 innings. Those were freak injuries that do not suggest long-term problems, however, so there’s a good reason to think he’ll bounce back to useful form, even if it’s a tough ask for him to return to the form that won him the 2014 and 2017 Cy Young Award.

Before his injury-wracked 2019 campaign, Kluber pitched over 200 innings in each of his previous five seasons so mileage could be an issue. For his career he’s 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA (134 ERA+), a 2.99 FIP, and a K/BB ratio of 1,461/292 over 1,341.2 innings in nine big league seasons.

Unless there is cash coming from Cleveland in the deal, the Rangers will be paying him $17.5 million this year and a 2021 option of $14 million pursuant to the five-year, $38.5 million contract he inked with Cleveland before the 2015 season.

DeShields, 27, is a career .246/.326/.342 hitter (76 OPS+) and that’s about how he performed in 2019 as well. He was demoted to Triple-A Nashville in May. Clase, who will turn 22 before next season, pitched 21 games, all but one in relief, for the Rangers in 2019 and will still be considered a rookie in 2020. He has been used mostly as a reliever in the minors as well.

Pending what else the Tribe is going to be getting, this appears to be a light return for a pitcher who, despite his 2019 injuries, should be expected to come back and be a workhorse. Unless there is some real talent coming back, in addition to DeShields and Clase, it would seem to be a salary dump for Cleveland and a steal for Texas. It is likewise perplexing how any of the many, many teams who could use starting pitching — the Angels and the Mets, among others, come to mind — could not top the package Texas offered.

As for the Indians, the commitment to Kluber for 2020-21 is $31.5 million if you exercise next year’s option, $18.5 million if you don’t. He’s one year and a freak injury removed from goin 20-7 with a 2.89 (150 ERA+), 0.991 WHIP, and 215 innings pitched. Cleveland is coming off 93 wins and should contend. Why you trade Kluber in that situation, regardless of the return, is a question they should have to answer to fans who expect to see winning baseball.