Cleveland Guardians: Who will be the next player signed to an extension?

As we start looking towards 2024, who will be the next Guardians player signed to an extension?
Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels
Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages
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Ahead of this season, the Cleveland Guardians signed second baseman Andrés Giménez to a seven-year, $106.5 million contract extension, hot on the heels of a breakout 2022 campaign.

Though Giménez has often struggled this season, it's valuable knowing just who is going to be playing second for years to come (shortstop, on the other hand, is a completely different story).

The 2023 season has been surprising for a lot of reasons, and as we look towards 2024 in the attempt to wipe away the disappointment of this year, we ask ourselves: Who will be the next player signed to an extension?

Here are three possibilities.

Josh Naylor

This is the easy slam-dunk choice. Naylor broke out in a huge way this year, becoming one of the Guardians' most valuable bats and a formidable power threat and run producer on a team that is severely lacking in that department. Even with a few injuries here and there, Naylor has put together a massive offensive campaign to the tune of a .306/.347/.503 slash line with 17 home runs, 88 RBI, 27 doubles, and a 134 OPS+ in 430 plate appearances. If it wasn't for an oblique strain, I thought Naylor even had a shot to get into the top ten single-season RBI mark for the franchise.

But all that being said, Naylor, who is 26 years old and isn't a free agent until 2026, is a player the Guardians desperately need as part of their core. With him and José Ramírez continuing to stabilize the middle of the lineup for years to come, the rest of the order can begin to take shape. It wouldn't be a shock at all to see Naylor get the next team extension.

Shane Bieber

Bieber will be entering the final year of his contract with Cleveland next year, and for a while, it looked like all signs were pointing to him signing a big deal elsewhere. But the 28-year-old won't be entering his contract year with much momentum on his side. He's had to deal with injuries in the past few years which have kept him out for significant time. But perhaps most concerning is Bieber's continued drop in velocity, combined with the fact that he was hit harder than ever this season before getting hurt.

Still, Bieber can be an incredibly effective starter and he is still the heart and soul of the Guardians rotation. If the Guardians have an opportunity to sign him to a friendly deal, they should jump at the chance. Even with all of Bieber's burgeoning struggles, he still sports a 3.77 ERA (though with a 4.11 FIP and unsightly 4.94 xERA) with 95 strikeouts in 117 innings.

Steven Kwan

Though he has still been productive, I doubt Cleveland is in much of a rush to sign Kwan to an extension just yet. In some ways, Kwan is having nearly an identical sophomore season, hitting .272/.341/.373 with five home runs, 32 doubles, six triples, 50 RBI, 20 stolen bases, 61 walks, 67 strikeouts, and a 100 OPS+ in 652 plate appearances.

And when I say identical, I mean it. In his breakout rookie campaign, Kwan hit .298/.373/.400 with six home runs, 25 doubles, seven triples, 52 RBI, 19 stolen bases, 62 strikeouts, 60 walks, and a 124 OPS+ in 638 plate appearances. There is some evidences to suggest Kwan has been a bit more unlucky this year evidenced by a .282 xBA and .297 BABIP, but his light-hitting profile doesn't do him a ton of favors.

These are very productive numbers for a leadoff hitter, but there's a good chance Cleveland is going to want to see what kind of leap Kwan might be able to make in his third season. But just like with Giménez, it would be very valuable knowing who is going to hit leadoff for years to come.