Cleveland Guardians must continue decisive roster management process
The Cleveland Guardians did something not many expected last season. No, not winning the division or even winning their first playoff series since the 2016 ALCS. Cleveland was finally decisive when it came to churning through their roster and moving on from players that were clearly not part of their future.
This is quite the contrast from their approach in previous seasons, which saw the team hold on to players who produced subpar results. Cleveland did not repeat its mistakes of the past and were not afraid to turn the page when it came to certain players.
In previous years, the Guardians would hang on to players for far too long, creating only frustration among the fan base when they were liabilities at the plate. Recently, Cleveland would play the likes of Domingo Santana, Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Gonzalez, and Jake Bauers in what amounted to undeserved playing time. The 2022 season was not the same, as the Guardians made a much-needed change to their approach.
Cleveland would move on from Bradley Zimmer, Logan Allen, Daniel Johnson, and Yu Chang by the end of May. In a period of just under ten days, Cleveland placed Oscar Mercado on waivers only to reclaim him from Philadelphia. Early August saw the team determine that Bobby Bradley and Franmil Reyes were not going to be integral pieces moving forward. Moving on from these players allowed younger players to have their shot and it proved beneficial by the end of the season with 92 wins and a division crown to show for it.
While the Guardians do not have the same volume of players that appear as obvious move-on candidates (with Reyes really being the only surprise from this time last season), should two particular players struggle, they may find themselves in similar circumstances. Those players are Myles Straw and Zach Plesac.
In 2022, Straw had his worst season as a pro in which he appeared in more than 34 games, slashing just .221/.291/.273 with a 64 wRC+. It may take a lot for the Guardians to actually move on from Straw due to his defensive abilities and being an asset on the basepaths, but improvement is needed with a bat in his hands.
There is a very likely possibility that Straw finds himself bumped out of a full-time starter role and put into a fourth outfielder role rather than sent packing. Even as a part-time player, Straw would still present some much-needed value to the Guardians. Although considering how the team approached the roster last season with promising prospects in the pipeline, Cleveland could opt to part ways should Straw struggle again.
Plesac, on the other hand, has been disappointing for two straight seasons, allowing 42 home runs in his last 50 appearances. Things have just not been the same for Plesac over this span when compared to his first 29 games as a pro. The struggles of Plesac, combined with the fact he is set to become a free agent after the year, could see Cleveland moving the 28-year-old pitcher to a team willing to take a flier on him.
There is still plenty of time before the Guardians have to make a decision in regards to either player. Being prepared for if that time comes is never a bad thing, especially when it comes to players where it is very obvious that improvement is needed. Should both players struggle again, it would not be a big surprise if Cleveland continues their roster-churning process.