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Report: The Mets are interested in Doug Fister

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Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports that at least five teams have looked at free agent right-hander Doug Fister over the last week. Fister held a pitching showcase for interested teams last Thursday, which was attended by the Mets, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks and Angels. Per Cotillo, the Mets are considering inking Fister to a major league contract, though a clear frontrunner has yet to emerge for the right-hander’s services.

Fister, 33, is coming off of an unsuccessful stint with the Astros. He appeared to have made a full recovery after dealing with forearm tightness and shoulder issues in 2014-15, and signed a one-year, $7 million contract with Houston for the 2016 season. His results off the mound weren’t quite up to par, however, returning a career-worst 4.64 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and 5.7 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with the club.

The potential signing comes at a fortuitous moment for the Mets, whose rotation has taken a hit after losing Noah Syndergaard to a lat injury, losing Seth Lugo to a torn UCL, benching Matt Harvey for an undisclosed team policy violation and waiting out Steven Matz‘s lengthy recovery from left elbow inflammation.

They’re not the only team looking to patch holes, however. The Blue Jays and Angels’ rotations rank among the bottom 10 teams in the majors, while the Giants (another team to take a flyer on Fister last week) are struggling to keep their heads above water after losing Madison Bumgarner to a motorbike injury last month. The Diamondbacks are by far the most successful of Fister’s suitors, though Cotillo points out that they’re currently operating without right-hander Shelby Miller and could use the extra depth.

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.