Braves leave Dan Uggla, Paul Maholm, and Scott Downs off playoff roster

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As expected the Braves have left second baseman Dan Uggla off their NLDS roster, meaning they’d rather face the Dodgers without their highest-paid player. Uggla hit .179 this season and was completely helpless since returning from eye surgery, going 8-for-60 (.133) with 25 strikeouts.

Along with Uggla the Braves also left off Paul Maholm, who started 26 games during the regular season, and Scott Downs, who was acquired from the Angels to provide a left-handed bullpen option in the late innings.

Instead of relying on Maholm for a potential Game 4 start the Braves will apparently turn to Freddy Garcia, who was bouncing around between Triple-A teams a month ago and then tossed 27 innings with a 1.65 ERA down the stretch. Garcia is also 36 years old with a 4.84 ERA in 188 total innings since the beginning of last season, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is a big believer in recent performances being meaningful.

Which is why Downs likely missed the cut. He’s been one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball for almost a decade, posting a combined 2.33 ERA in 447 appearances since 2007, but Downs had a 3.86 ERA and 15/8 K/BB ratio in 14 innings for the Braves.

Indians trade Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers

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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.