The Cleveland Guardians continue to trim down their roster as Opening Day approaches. Cleveland's latest move of note comes at the catcher position, as Bryan Lavastida has been optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
Lavastida did not receive a particularly high amount of at-bats during the spring with Mike Zunino, Cam Gallagher, David Fry, and Zack Collins all having between six and ten more each. Even in his limited opportunities, it was tough to do much of anything (13 at-bats total). Lavastida had just two hits (both singles) while striking out three times, and walking once in Arizona. The young backstop did have a cup of coffee with the Guardians last season, going just 1-12 with four strikeouts and three walks.
This series of events is not entirely surprising considering Cleveland optioned fellow young catcher Bo Naylor earlier this spring. It appears the Guardians want Zunino's backup to have a little bit more experience than what Lavastida and Naylor currently offer. Lavastida (24) and Naylor (23) are both options to be called up later this season, but a few things would have to occur and/or be sorted out for that call to come.
Cleveland is seemingly taking a conservative route when it comes to who will back up Zunino. He has not been the healthiest player over the course of his career, appearing in just 376 out of a possible 708 games over the last five seasons. And in 2022, Zunino's season ended after just 36 games after he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. Opting for a player with a bit more experience than what Lavastida and Naylor currently offer is not necessarily exciting, but this risk-averse option could be the right play should Zunino miss time again.
Gallagher (30) and Collins (28) have 171 and 150 MLB games under the belts, respectively. This is not a particularly high volume of games, but it is more than Cleveland's other options with upside. The Guardians know they will need someone to handle the pitching staff if Zunino goes down and placing that on the likes of Lavastida and Naylor does not appear to be something the team feels comfortable with at this moment in time.