The MLB hot stove is heating up with rumors that a pair of aces are on the market.
The Cleveland Indians are willing to part with right-hander Corey Kluber.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are interested in moving right-hander Zack Greinke.
If he wants to pursue a trade, which ace is he better off chasing?
- Age: 32
- 2018: 20-7, 2.89 ERA, 33 GS, 215.0 IP, 222 K
- Cy Young Awards: 2 (2014, 2017)
- All-Star appearances: 3
- Career stats: 8 seasons, 96-55, 3.09 ERA, 1,306.0 IP, 196 GS (201 G)
- 2019 contract: $15 million
- 2020 contract: $15.5 million option
- 2021 contract: $16 million option
- Total possible cost: 3 years, $46.5 million
- Age: 35
- 2018: 15-11, 3.21 ERA, 33 GS, 207.2 IP, 199 K
- Cy Young Awards: 1 (2009)
- All-Star appearances: 5
- Career stats: 15 seasons, 187-118, 3.39 ERA, 2,663.1 IP, 414 GS (455 G)
- 2019 contract: $34.5 million
- 2020 contract: $35 million
- 2021 contract: $35 million
- Total possible cost: 3 years, $104.5 million
Analysis: On paper, Kluber is the better option. Simply put, he is younger and cheaper.
But it’s possible the Diamondbacks are willing to eat some of Greinke’s contract. Depending on how much Arizona will cover, the finances could be a wash.
That brings us to performance. Kluber is three years younger than Greinke. He’s thrown half as many innings as Greinke. So any team trading for Kluber is getting the right-hander in his prime. Any team trading for Greinke is getting a right-hander who’s on the downside of his career. Yes, he’s still an excellent pitcher. But odds are Kluber’s next three seasons will be better than Greinke’s next three seasons.
Conclusion: Both pitchers are difference-makers. But Kluber has the potential to be the workhorse of the rotation for a contending team for the next three seasons, during which he is cost-controlled, freeing up his employer to drop more money in free agency.
The one piece of information that remains unknown is which prospects the Indians and Diamondbacks would demand in return for their aces. How much is Cashman willing to surrender in a deal? He’s done an excellent job of rebuilding the farm system on the fly. Now he has to decide which pieces he wants to sell in order to buy the Yankees a chance at a World Series title.