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Report: Padres ‘strong contender’ to acquire Corey Kluber

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In his latest article for MLB.com, Jon Morosi reports that the Padres are a “strong contender” to land starter Corey Kluber from the Indians. The Dodgers have been frequently linked to Kluber, but the Padres and Indians are currently engaged in trade talks. Morosi notes that the Phillies, Brewers, and Reds have also had trade talks with the Indians “to varying degrees.”

Kluber, 32, is a two-time AL Cy Young Award winner and would certainly provide a big boost to the Padres, who appear committed to contending after signing Eric Hosmer in February and Ian Kinsler last week. This past season, Kluber went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 222/34 K/BB ratio in 215 innings. He finished third in Cy Young balloting behind Blake Snell and Justin Verlander.

Kluber will earn $17 million this season, then has two club options for the 2020-21 seasons at $17.5 million and $18 million, respectively, each with $1 million buyouts.

Per Morosi, the Indians would prefer major league-ready talent in return, so the Padres could dangle a combination of Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, and Austin Hedges along with others. The Padres’ top-two prospects, Fernando Tatis, Jr. and MacKenzie Gore, are unlikely to be included in a deal involving Kluber.

Video: Starling Marte refuses to take first base after being hit by pitch

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was hit on the hand by a Jack Flaherty pitch in the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Cardinals. Rather than take first base, Marte — who came to the plate with a runner on first base — insisted to home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman that the ball hit the knob of the bat, not his hand. Marte was allowed to continue his at-bat, though manager Clint Hurdle came out to discuss the ruling with Dreckman. Marte eventually grounded into a fielder’s choice. He then got caught attempting to steal second base and the Pirates scored zero runs in the inning.

According to Baseball Prospectus, a team that has runners on first and second with no outs is expected to score 1.55 runs. Having a runner on first base with one out yields 0.56 expected runs. Marte essentially cost his team a run by rejecting first base. Oops.