Well, that was a fun trade deadline! As the dust settles, there are sure to be fans who are upset with the moves, those who will be confused by said moves, and even those who will champion them. I'm somewhere in a grey area - agreeing with the Amed Rosario and Josh Bell trades, for various reasons. However, the Aaron Civale trade could certainly come back to bite the club. Though it's also the trade that netted the Guardians with the best return - unless you consider saving roughly $9M in the Bell trade. I still wish the front office would have found a way to address the outfield with a power bat, but alas that was not the case - maybe they do so this off-season.
But all fans should be excited to finally see what some of the young guys can do. Gabrial Arias, Tyler Freeman, Oscar Gonzalez, and David Fry all seem poised to receive more playing time as a result. The club has also recalled Brayan Rocchio, it remains to be seen if he'll be given any meaningful opportunities. And there lies what I am most eager to see moving forward, who will step up from this bunch? Maybe it's none of them. Maybe we head into the '24 season with a huge question mark at shortstop and right field. Then again, maybe not.
This spurred a deeper thought - the Guardians are most certainly trying to avoid making the same mistakes with this set of youngsters, as they did with Nolan Jones and Will Benson. Arias playing this season at 23 years old, Freeman is only 24 years old, and Oscar Gonzalez is currently 25. It's also possible that what we have seen this year from each of them is what they are. But in the case of Freeman and Arias especially, they are still quite young by most metrics.
So what exactly is the point? Well for starters, maybe just maybe, we have been too harsh on a guy like Gabriel Arias. Sure he has flaws, but how many 22-23 year old's can come in and light the world on fire? And consider the fact that he has been relegated to a bench role for most of the season, and well now we have an argument in defense of him.
Consider the following two sets of stats.
- Player A - 95 games - .202/.308/.317, 7 2b, 1 3b, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB, 31 BB, 74 SO, 78 OPS+
- Player B - 83 games - .265/.307/.353, 10 2b, 3 3b, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 10 SB, 15 BB, 37 SO, 85 OPS+
They bare some similarities, yet there are some noticable differences between the two. Most would prefer the batting average and strikeout numbers of Player B compared to those of Player A. But the other numbers are quite similar.
We are of course looking at Gabriel Arias (2022 and 2023) and Jose Ramirez (2013 and 2014).
I'm not saying Arias will become Jose. But much like Jose's early days, Arias has played multiple positions and has received inconsistent playing time. In addition, there were many fans who wanted to run Jose out of town before he truly broke out in 2016.
The real takeaway from this long-winded exercise is simple. Now that the roadblocks have been removed for a few of these youngsters, let's finally see what the Guardians have. Again some will falter, some will be Quad-A type guys, but a few may stick and can help this club out. Of all the guys who made their debut last season only Steven Kwan, Will Brennan, and Bo Naylor have truly solidified themselves with the club.
So will we as fans get any clarity on the direction of the club? Maybe not. But let the kids play, and let the chips fall where they may. Look, the Guardians are not World Series contenders, but a playoff berth is still very much obtainable all the while they are figuring out the future of this team.