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Kyle Crick and Felipe Vázquez’s fight was over music

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The other night Pirates relievers Kyle Crick and Felipe Vázquez got into a fight and Crick suffered an injury to the index finger on his pitching hand. He underwent extensor tendon repair surgery and his season is over.

Now we know what the fight was about. From Nubyjas Wilborn of the Post-Gazette: it was music. As in Crick was playing music at his locker, Vázquez asked him to turn it off, Crick said no, they argued, and then fisticuffs ensued. And, depending on how precise this characterization of it is, it sounds like Vázquez may have sucker punched Crick:

Vazquez threw a punch that Crick wasn’t expecting and then followed with another blow, and Crick retaliated with punches back at Vazquez. The fight ended with Vazquez requiring six stitches to his nose. Vazquez was seen after the game with bandages on his nose.

Crick was fined $2,500 by the team, while Vazquez was fined $10,000, according to a team source.

Crick told Wilborn he’s filing a grievance over the fine because he feels like he was attacked and was merely defending himself.

Obviously there was some simmering animosity here before the dispute over music. You’ll recall that last month there was another incident in which bullpen coach Euclides Rojas was suspended for a couple of games. That was the result of an on-field pregame shouting match between him and Crick which required Pirates players to separate the two. The source of the shouting: Crick asking why Vázquez wasn’t on the field for warmups and why Vázquez was allowed to wear t-shirts rather than warmup jerseys during the pregame routine. I’m gonna assume Vázquez was well aware that Crick had a problem with him when the music fight began.

Anyway. Vázquez is an elite reliever who is under contract through 2022 and there’s a club option for 2023. Crick is under team control for several more years. It’ll be interesting to see if they’re both reporting to Bradenton next February.

 

 

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.