Elder 2024 free-agent targets for the Cleveland Guardians

The Cleveland Guardians lack a veteran presence on the club, but luckily, there are plenty of names worth considering for 2024.

Texas Rangers v Minnesota Twins
Texas Rangers v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

In 2023, the Cleveland Guardians were second only to the Pittsburgh Pirates in average age of players: 26.8 to 26.1. I won't pin this factor as the reason for the Guardians' lackluster season - that would be silly - but having a solid veteran presence can certainly pay off, and you have to look no further than this year's World Series.

Kole Calhoun was easily the oldest member of the 2023 Cleveland club, and I trust that he brought a sense of stability to the team upon his arrival. He also came through in the clutch a handful of times as well. I'm not particularly sure it makes sense to bring Calhoun back, especially as I hope the club spends on an everyday right fielder earlier in free agency or via trade. But that doesn't mean the team can't add some veterans to the bunch who may actually be able to contribute.

Towards the end of the season it was abundantly clear the team lacked a "looseness" about them, which is why they may never have really gotten going this year. But this can be easily corrected, and before you grab your torches and pitchforks, hear me out.

2024 'Old Guy' Free-Agent Targets for the Cleveland Guardians

Let's bring back Austin Hedges! That's right, Hedges would not only serve as an ideal backup, but he could help guide both Bo Naylor and David Fry in each of their own journeys of learning how to handle the pitching staff. Plus, it just feels like a good, no risk, savvy move (sorry, Cam Gallagher).

Moving to the pitching side of the coin, how about I recommend another reunion? Don't look at his 2023 stats, but instead consider his 2021-2022 season: 47 GS, 244.0 IP, 221 SO, 54 BB, 3.66 FIP, 4.17 ERA, 93 ERA+. Not bad for a fifth/emergency starter type. So who's behind door number two? None other than Corey Kluber. It's a big if for Kluber to be able to match those stats from even just two years ago, but why not look to add some depth to the rotation and allow him to retire in Cleveland?

Will Smith, the relief pitcher - not the catcher nor the actor/rapper/face-slapper - would be a quality addition to the Guardians bullpen. He'd immediately be another arm you can depend on late in games to bridge that gap to Trevor Stephan and Emmanuel Clase. Adding Smith, while hopefully retaining Reynaldo López as well, would do wonders for the pen. Not to mention Smith just won his third consecutive World Series ring. You want to guarantee a championship in Cleveland next season? Then go get Smith.

Hedges (31), Kluber (37), and Smith (34) would certainly up the average age on this roster, but will it translate to wins? These moves alone? Well, it's a resounding no! But as supplemental pieces to a larger picture they certainly could. Just remember, there is a place for these types of moves, but the Guardians certainly need more.