The Cleveland Guardians have committed to youth, so now what?

President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti has confirmed the Cleveland Guardians will look to see what the club has in its internal prospects.

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Recently, Chris Antonetti sat down and confirmed to reporters, and most importantly, the fans, that the 2024 season would be a year in which the club gets a good look at all these young position players. But what does that mean? Are we destined for a 100-loss season? Could the club scrap to a .500 record? Heck, is it possible that the team galvanizes together and ends up in the playoffs?

The simple answer to all of those questions is, "It depends." 

But there are a few things we can say with some certainty today. We'll learn more as spring training rolls on, but let's examine what this news could mean for the 2024 Cleveland Guardians.

A Look at the Guardians Outfield

So if we are to take Antonetti and crew at their word - I, for one, do in this circumstance - then we will see some changes starting day one in the outfield. The club added former Yankee prospect Estevan Florial via trade and re-signed Ramón Laureano to a one-year deal this offseason. Florial has been a hyped prospect for what seems like the better part of a decade now, but has had success in the minors - it remains to be seen if that will translate to any level of success in the bigs, however.

Meanwhile, Laureano is the perfect fourth/platoon outfielder, but at 29 years old, he shouldn't get in the way of the younger guys. The one to really watch in the outfield is center fielder Myles Straw. In a dream scenario, he'd be DFA'd, but unfortunately, I don't think we'll be so lucky this year. Instead, he should be relegated to a fifth outfield option and maybe the occasional pinch-running assignment.

What to Make of the Crowded Infield?

Turning our attention to the infield, four of the five spots are locked up. José Ramírez, Andrés Giménez, and the Naylor brothers are all surefire starters. But because of the glut of middle infielders, the club has not been able to settle on a shortstop for 2024, let alone the future.

Gabriel Arias will likely get the first crack at those duties, but if he repeats his horrid 2023 campaign, then the team needs to move on. Brayan Rocchio doesn't possess the same kind of raw power as Arias but seems better suited to make consistent contact and hit for a better average. The final contender for everyday playing time is Juan Brito, but according to those in the know, they say he's better suited for second base, which would require Giménez to make a move to short, something he's highly capable of doing.

Designated hitter is another role that may be a musical chair of sorts during the 2024 season. Josh Naylor, David Fry, and Deyvison De Los Santos all seem poised to split time between first and DH to start the season. But by mid-May, expect Kyle Manzardo to enter the conversation, too. Due to his Rule 5 status, De Los Santos is going to play a role in how soon we see Manzardo in Cleveland. He'll likely be assigned a bench role once Manzardo does make the club.

What Does the Guardians' Pitching Staff Look Like Heading Into 2024?

On the pitching side of things, we all know the state of the rotation, and barring any Shane Bieber trade, it should remain consistent this season. However, looking at the bullpen, one can't help but see an opportunity for a number of younger arms. Xzavion Curry pitched well as a long man last season, but Hunter Gaddis, Joey Cantillo, and potentially even Daniel Espino could all see time in that role as well. Others like Cade Smith, Franco Aleman, and Ryan Webb should all be in the conversation to replace any struggling pen member without hesitation.

It's no doubt frustrating/annoying/head-scratching that the Guardians front office made so few moves this offseason. But given their hoarding ways, this was an inevitable situation. The front office appears to be snake-bitten after the recent trades of Junior Caminero, Nolan Jones, and others. However, that is no excuse for the club to trot out the same old same old day in and day out. It bears repeating that Myles Straw shouldn't play much at all, Laureano should be utilized primarily as a platoon at best, and if Gabriel Arias can't hack it - move on!

Only time will tell how the 2024 season shakes out, but it won't be a dull one. There will be plenty of storylines and player development to follow. Who knows, maybe this will be the long-awaited year that the club finally sells off some of that excess middle-infield depth. A guy can dream, right?