Royals plan to develop Brandon Finnegan as a starter

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Brandon Finnegan had a rapid rise to the majors, debuting for the Royals just three months after they drafted him 17th overall and making a big impact in the playoffs as a reliever.

However, long term the Royals still think he fits best as a starting pitcher and general manager Dayton Moore said the team plans to continue developing him that way:

We feel like it’s in his best interests and our best interests long term as an organization to develop him as a starter.

Finnegan was a starter at TCU, going 9-3 with a 2.04 ERA and 134/29 K/BB ratio in 106 innings there during his final season. He also began his pro career as starter at Single-A, but then shifted to the bullpen following a promotion to Double-A.

If they stick with him as a starter, Finnegan seems destined to begin this season in the minors.

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. 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.

With all due respect to DeShields and Clase, this is a very light return for a pitcher who, despite his 2019 injuries, should be expected to come back and be a workhorse. 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.