There is one player who stands out as an obvious extension candidate that the Cleveland Guardians must work to keep in town this winter. Josh Naylor.
The 26-year-old slugging first baseman was able to take the next step forward that the Guardians have been patiently waiting for this past season, and with that should come a contract extension that rewards Naylor for his performance while keeping him in Cleveland for the long haul.
Naylor saw his slash line climb to an impressive .301/.354/.489 in 121 games in 2023, higher than his career mark of .253/.312/.417 entering the year. With 97 runs batted in, Naylor led the team despite missing a month's worth of games toward the end of the year. Naylor would finish second in home runs (17) behind only Jose Ramirez. The 31 doubles from Naylor was good for third on the Guardians, as Ramirez and Steven Kwan had the most (36).
Naylor has two more arbitration years remaining, which means any deal agreed to this winter would buy them out. This is a course of action which would benefit both parties. For Naylor, it would provide some financial security, something which may be of interest to the left-handed slugger considering his past injury history. Naylor has not exactly been the picture of health during his career, and he may be interested in removing that risk from the equation when it comes to his future earning potential.
An extension for Naylor would help the Guardians in two important areas. First off, it would secure his place on the roster for the foreseeable future. As of now, the only quality hitters in their lineup with that designation are Jose Ramirez and Andres Gimenez. Having a third signed to an extension would allow for lineup consistency on a year-over-year basis. The other area that would benefit the Guardians is that it would put a known dollar figure of which to work off when approaching the upcoming offseason. This will allow the front office to add to the roster accordingly, as it removes the unknown variable of the arbitration process.
Naylor has quickly become one of Cleveland's best hitters, and finding a way to extend his stay in Cleveland should be one of the organization's top priorities.