Cleveland Indians Bet Big on Emmanuel Clase

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 28: Texas Rangers pitcher Emmanuel Clase (43) in action during the first inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels played on August 28, 2019 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 28: Texas Rangers pitcher Emmanuel Clase (43) in action during the first inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels played on August 28, 2019 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

When two teams complete a blockbuster trade, the centerpieces on both sides of the agreement are often faced with high expectations. The Rangers hope Kluber can join the front of their rotation and bounce back from his injury-riddled 2019 campaign. The Indians, meanwhile, expect Clase to continue to develop, ultimately becoming a key piece of a still-formidable Indians pitching staff.

The Indians foresee success in 2020, despite dealing away their former ace. If that goal is to be met, then Clase, and to a lesser degree DeShields, must approximate Kluber’s production, which is no small task. Kluber, a three-time All-Star, has two Cy Young Awards on his mantle (2014 and 2016). He was also a major part of the team’s securing of the 2016 AL Pennant.

While Kluber will turn 34 years old during the season, he remains one of the game’s top starters. Trading him away is a big bet on the talent of Clase, who will likely start the year in AAA before being brought up and used as a set-up man to closer Brad Hand.

In the long-term, if everything breaks right, Clase would assume the closer’s role and hopefully reach his All-Star ceiling. He also comes with six years of team control, something that likely played a huge factor in the notoriously frugal Indians’ calculations.

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Will that be enough, though? Again, Kluber is an elite arm at a position that is regaining value in today’s game. Considering what the Indians had been asking for in return for Kluber over the past calendar year, their return in this trade seems a little light. Only time will tell, and while flamethrower Emmanuel Clase has elite tools, he’ll have to continue to put the pieces together in order to live up to expectations the Indians seem to hold him to, though Kluber’s shoes may be impossible to fill.