Cleveland Guardians trade Nolan Jones, Carlos Vargas ahead of Rule 5 Draft

Cleveland Guardians v Tampa Bay Rays
Cleveland Guardians v Tampa Bay Rays / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

The Cleveland Guardians traded former first-round pick Nolan Jones to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for infielder Juan Brito this week. The move, among others, came as the Guardians prepare for the Rule 5 Draft, which is likely to poach some top prospects that Cleveland will be unable to add to its 40-man roster. Jones was at one point the top prospect in Cleveland’s system. Injuries since 2019, including to his right thumb and left ankle, have derailed his progress, and Jones didn’t make his major-league debut until this year.

Jones looked at one point to be the Guardians’ heir apparent at third base and also saw some occasional time in left and right field as well as at first base. But with the clog of Triple-A-to-MLB players now populating Cleveland’s upper levels, Jones was left out of the fold. Across 28 games this season, he batted .244 with two home runs and 13 RBIs while walking eight times and striking out 31 times. The much-anticipated debut was quickly dampened, and he was demoted to Columbus toward the end of the season and left off the playoff roster.

Brito, a 21-year-old switch-hitter, signed with the Rockies in July of 2018 as an international player out of the Dominican Republic. He spent last season at High-A Fresno after a year in the Dominican Summer League and another in the Arizona Complex League. Brito hit .286 with 29 doubles, six triples, 11 home runs and 72 RBI through 107 games. Across his three seasons in Colorado’s organization, Brito owns a .295 batting average with 109 RBIs through 169 professional games. After the acquisition, Cleveland assigned him to the High-A Lake County Captains and added him to the 40-man roster.

The Guardians also traded bullpen arm Carlos Vargas to the Arizona Diamondbacks for right-handed prospect Ross Carver. Vargas signed as an international free agent with the Guardians in 2016 with the highest signing bonus of all Cleveland international free agents. While utilizing a fastball that has reached 101 mph, Vargas tends to struggle with his command, and had mixed results last season between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.  

Carver split 2022 between High-A and Double-A, finishing with a combined ERA of 5.06 while striking out 128 batters and walking 42.

Cleveland designated pitchers Kirk McCarty and Anthony Gose for assignment and added lefties Tim Herrin, Joey Cantillo and infielder Angel Martinez to the 40-man roster to finish off the day.