6 thoughts on the Cleveland Guardians’ updated 40-man roster

Tyler Freeman #68 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Tyler Freeman #68 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
Cleveland Guardians, Bradley Zimmer
Bradley Zimmer #4 of the Cleveland Guardians (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Guardians have updated their 40-man roster – who made the cut?

The first day of the Cleveland Guardians existence was busy, what with the sign to the team store falling down and, more importantly, the team being tasked with setting its 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft.

The team selected eleven players to the 40-man Friday:

  • Outfielder Steven Kwan
  • RHP Cody Morris
  • Infielder/outfielder Richie Palacios
  • Infielder Tyler Freeman
  • Catcher Bryan Lavastida
  • LHP Konnor Pilkington
  • Infielder Brayan Rocchio
  • Infielder Jose Tena
  • Outfielder George Valera
  • Infielder Jhonkensy Noel
  • RHP Tobias Myers

The Guardians also cut loose seven others, including outfielders Harold Ramirez and Daniel Johnson and pitchers Justin Garza, J.C. Mejia, Scott Moss, Kyle Nelson, and Alex Young.

Here are some initial thoughts on the updated roster now that the dust has settled (for now):

1. The Cleveland Guardians youth movement is on in full force

With a lot of top prospects becoming Rule 5-eligible, it was always assumed the Guardians would have to protect a good number of them, but it’s still surprising to see just how much of a roster overhaul has taken place. Not to mention the average age of the 40-man roster is now a ridiculous 24.5 years old.

But there are a lot of exciting young names now littered across the 40-man, and many of them appear ready to make an impact in Cleveland as early as 2022. Names like Steven Kwan, Richie Palacios, Cody Morris, George Valera, Tyler Freeman and more… this represents the wave of the Guardians future, which could be here even sooner than anticipated.

2. Who is Tobias Myers?

The Guardians made a trade amidst the roster-crunch chaos, acquiring right-handed pitcher Tobias Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays, who are becoming a frequent trade partner, for 18-year-old infield prospect Junior Caminero. Myers, 23, had a combined 3.90 ERA in 117 2/3 innings between Double-A Montgomery (go Biscuits!) and Triple-A Durham this year. He made 22 starts this season, but ultimately projects as a bullpen arm with an extensive pitch arsenal, including an above-average fastball and curveball. He should slot into the Guardians bullpen immediately.

3. The excitement of adding Jhonkensy Noel and Jose Tena to the roster

Adding the likes Jhonkensy Noel and Jose Tena to the 40-man roster has less to do with what their immediate impact could be on the team as opposed to simply protecting them from the Rule 5 draft. Both Noel and Tena were eligible, and though they’re both young – both are 20 years old – a rebuilding team could have scooped them up.

Which wouldn’t have been too surprising given the seasons they both had. Tena hit .281/.331/.467 with 16 home runs and 25 doubles at High-A Lake County, and absolutely tore up the Arizona Fall League to the tune of a .387/.467/.516 line in 17 games. Noel, meanwhile, could very well be the team’s first baseman of the future, as he continues to rocket through the minors. Even in an injury-shortened 2021 season, Noel hit a combined .340/.390/.615 with 19 home runs and 14 doubles in 265 at-bats spanning three minor-league levels.

4. What will the Guardians do with Bradley Zimmer and/or Oscar Mercado?

It was somewhat surprising to see both Zimmer and Mercado on the 40-man with Harold Ramirez being left off – the team has not seemed willing to give Daniel Johnson a real chance, so it’s not shocking to see him designated for assignment, and I’d imagine another team could scoop him up for the immediate power potential that can be plugged into a lineup.

There are likely more moves to be made in the outfield, and even with Zimmer and Mercado still on the 40-man for now, it seems likely that a free-agent move or trade would continue to shake things up. It would honestly be shocking to see both of them on the Opening Day roster.

5. Why didn’t the Guardians protect Oscar Gonzalez?

Gonzalez, 23, seemed like a perfect Rule 5-eligible choice for the 40-man; after all, he launched an impressive 31 homers between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. But he also struck out 112 times and walked only 22 times while not projecting to be very reliable defensively. With the Guardians’ focus on building a roster of hitters who make solid contact and get on base, the team is willing to roll the dice on another team picking him up.

6. What does this all mean for more Guardians moves this offseason?

There is still plenty of flexibility on the roster for the Guardians to make acquisitions, primarily in the outfield. Though Steven Kwan could make an immediate impact, George Valera is still a few years away. Franmil Reyes could see more time in the outfield this season and Myles Straw is entrenched in center field, but there are plenty of questions in left field and who will fill the roles of fourth and fifth outfielder. Expect some more moves here.

Steve DiMatteo is the host of the California Penal League Podcast, which you can find on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and anywhere else you get your podcasts.