The Cleveland Guardians' outfield is, currently, a mess. Aside from Steven Kwan in left field, the short-term future of center field and right is completely murky.
Though Myles Straw is under contract for the next three seasons, his playing time moving forward is not guaranteed at all, and there's a non-zero chance he's traded this offseason. Straw is of course an elite defender, but his offensive troubles have helped to drag the Guardians' lineup into the pits of hell.
As for right field, well, on some days this season the Guardians were just looking for anyone with a pulse to play the position.
All of this led to an outfield that only hit 18 total home runs in 2023, a sickening number that has to improve if Cleveland wants any shot at returning to relevance in 2024. But luckily for the Guardians, there are some free-agent options floating around out there that would make a ton of sense for the club.
Here are four intriguing outfielders the Guardians could sign to help solidify the outfield in 2024.
4 Free Agent Outfielders the Guardians Should Consider Signing
Hernández, 31, doesn't look like he'll be re-signing with the Mariners this offseason. But since 2018 when he started getting regular playing time with the Blue Jays, he's been a very serviceable and reliable outfielder, with a 118 OPS+ over that span. In that same time period, Hernández has slashed .262/.317/.484 and, most importantly, averaged 24 home runs and 25 doubles per year. The Guardians don't need anything mind-blowing in right field, but a guy they could pencil in for those numbers makes such a huge difference.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Gurriel is in the midst of a postseason run with the Diamondbacks, but he'll be a highly sought-after free agent this offseason. The 30-year-old hit a career-high in home runs this season with 24, adding 35 doubles to the mix as well. He's always been a player to hit for a solid average, and he's maintained a very solid 115 OPS+ over the course of his six-year career. He's really cut down on his strikeouts over the past few seasons as well and has excellent bat-to-ball skills, and with that extra pop, he's the exact kind of player the Guardians need.
You can just forget about Winker's disappointing, injury-plagued 2023. And, well, you can forget about his disappointing 2022, too. But the 30-year-old did have a great three-year stretch with the Cincinnati Reds from 2019 to 2021, slashing .284/.379/.523 with a 130 OPS+. Is he still capable of being that type of player? It's entirely possible, and if some of the other key free agents are off the table, it might be worth taking a flyer on Winker. But if the Guardians go this route, they better have a backup plan or two.
If you want a guy who will mash - and the Guardians certainly do - Renfroe will fit the bill. Over the past three seasons - playing for four different teams - Renfroe has done nothing but hit for power, crushing 80 home runs and 87 doubles in that span. The 31-year-old maintained a very respectable average in that time with a solid on-base percentage, so honestly, what's not to like? Cleveland desperately, desperately needs more power in the lineup and this could be the guy to provide it.