Jacob deGrom wins National League Rookie of the Year Award

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Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom was announced as the winner of the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year Award by the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) on Monday, beating out Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton and Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong. It wasn’t unanimous like Jose Abreu in the American League, but DeGrom still received 26 out of the 30 first-place votes. Hamilton got the other four first-place votes.

A late-bloomer, deGrom wasn’t on the radar in most prospect circles coming into the season and was even an afterthought among Mets fans with Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero presumed to be close to the majors. However, he turned out to be the biggest bright spot in the Mets’ season. Called up in mid-May after an injury to Dillon Gee, the shaggy-haired 26-year-old posted a 2.69 ERA with a 144/43 K/BB ratio in 140 1/3 innings across 22 starts.

Hamilton faded during the second half, but deGrom got better as the season moved along. He had a 1.99 ERA over his final 15 starts and allowed more than three runs just once in that time. DeGrom had a minor scare with his right shoulder in early August, but he rejoined the Mets’ rotation a few weeks later and finished September strong with a 1.67 ERA over four starts. The final push put made him the heavy favorite to walk away with Rookie of the Year honors.

While deGrom didn’t pitch the full season in the majors, he was right there among the game’s best when he was on the mound. Among pitchers with at least 140 innings pitched, he ranked 10th in the majors in strikeout percentage (25.5 percent), 11th in batting average against (.225), and 10th in OPS against (.613). His 130 ERA+ checked in at 19th. The Mets already had an impressive young nucleus of pitchers coming into this season, but deGrom’s unexpected emergence gives them another front-of-the-rotation stud.

DeGrom is the fifth National League Rookie of the Year winner in Mets history and the first in 30 years. Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983), and Dwight Gooden (1984) are the others.

Complete voting results for the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year Award can be found at BBWAA.com.

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.