Guardians make right decision by leaving Myle Straw off Opening Day roster

Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels
Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

There has been plenty of speculation regarding how the Cleveland Guardians were going to handle their outfield to begin the 2024 season. Attempting to project the outfield configuration was an exercise in frustration due to the obvious need for improvement in that area and an excess of underwhelming options available to them. One of those once thought to be a mortal lock for the foreseeable future, Myle Straw, is not part of Cleveland's plans to begin the season.

Straw was placed on waivers last week and has subsequently cleared them in an expected development, with the veteran outfielder accepting his assignment to Triple-A Columbus. It is not Straw's acceptance of being sent to Columbus that is surprising, but rather the Guardians taking a course of action that very few thought was on the table. This was a possibility that seemed even less likely after the organization stood firm on keeping Chase DeLauter in the minors to start the year.

What this comes down to is a numbers game, and unfortunately, there are numbers from Straw that contributed to this decision. Straw's performance at the plate since his outlier 90-game stretch to close 2021 has been far from ideal, with a slash line sitting at .229/.296/.284 over his last 299 games played.

Even though Straw has not been a strong performer with a bat in his hand, there was once a time when his defense was good enough to make up for his minimal impact with a bat in his hand, as evidenced by his Gold Glove in 2022. The problem is that there was a decline in his defensive performance last year that was very noticeable. Straw's ball tracking ability was not as sharp, in addition to fly balls that used to be in his range were now out of it. With his defensive decline, as well as his lack of hitting ability, the Guardians had no other choice but to clear a path for other players to get their shot.

To put it simply, this is a team that needs power in their lineup, specifically in the outfield, and they cannot justify any more time on a defensive/speed first outfielder who does not possess that specific trait. Instead of trotting Straw back out there on a daily basis and hoping that everyone else picks up their power output to make up for his that is non-existent, it makes a lot more sense to bring someone else into the fold who should be able to improve upon last year's dead last home run production.

There is a world where Straw could return to the major league club at some point this season. It just does not seem highly likely at this time due to the current outfielders on the roster currently, as well as the imminent arrival of the above-mentioned Chase DeLauter. That does not mean it will not necessarily happen, just that there are plenty of guys ahead of him in the pecking order for playing time in Cleveland, and a lot of things will have to happen in order for that to come to fruition.