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Diamondbacks designate Greg Holland for assignment

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The Arizona Diamondbacks have designated Greg Holland for assignment.

Holland led the league in saves just two years ago and, after a rough start to 2018 seemed to turn things around after a midseason trade to the Nationals. That got him his job with Arizona, but it hasn’t gone well. He was demoted from the closer’s role ten days ago after going 17-for-22 in save situations and has allowed five runs in three appearances since then. His ERA for the season has ballooned to 4.54 to go along with an unacceptably high walk rate.

Holland will almost certainly clear waivers and hit the free agent market in a few days. Whether anyone takes a chance on him is hard to say.

Fun fact: Holland’s deal with the Dbacks was an incentive-laden one. Lots of bonuses for games finished and games pitched. His last appearance for them came this last Monday. It was one inning of mopup duty in a loss to Philly. It was also his 40th appearance of the year which earned him a $100,000 bonus.

I wonder if the thinking was (a) “hey, let’s do him a solid;” (b) “let’s not cut him right before an incentive because he might file a grievance;” or (c) a total baseball decision, after which someone in the front office asked themselves why they’re running a guy out there who can make hundreds of thousands of dollars via just normal usage as the Snakes play out the string, thus prompting today’s transaction. I suppose there are other explanations too, but this is the kind of stuff that runs through my mind.

I know some people with the Dbacks and they seem pretty nice so I’m gonna assume (a), even if we never know.

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.