As the season draws to a close and the chances of advancing beyond the regular season at or near zero, it is not a surprise to see the Cleveland Guardians on the lower end of a recent MLB Power Ranking appearing on ESPN.
At 69-78 on the year, the Guardians ranked 20th, the same exact spot they were in the previous edition. This seems pretty appropriate considering where things are in the baseball schedule, in addition to the fact Cleveland has been consistently mediocre all year long. ESPN's Dave Schoenfield handled the Guardians' entry on the list.
"Cleveland is now closer to third-place Detroit than first-place Minnesota, so the news that Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie made rehab starts Tuesday and Wednesday comes a little too late -- although at least it's good news that they're healthy enough to pitch, a positive sign for 2024 (Bieber will no doubt be potential trade bait in the offseason, however). Indeed, as the season winds down, it will be interesting to see what the Guardians do in the outfield. Their outfielders have hit just 17 home runs -- last in the majors by a large margin. Steven Kwan is a likely Gold Glover in left field and has a solid OBP, but they're going to have to upgrade in center and right.- Dave Schoenfield on the Guardians
The rehab starts and potential from Bieber and McKenzie, as mentioned by Shoenfield, are too late to make an impact on the final result of the season. However, having them healthy enough to pitch should help the trade value of Bieber as the expectation remains for him to be shopped heavily this winter. There was a world where it would have been Bieber, not Civale, that was moved at the deadline. Unfortunately, an injury occurring just ahead of the deadline altered the Guardians' plans, resulting in the situation they find themselves in currently.
In regards to the outfield, this has been an area of concern for a long time. Steven Kwan is the only major league regular in the group right now, as the rest are a group made up of defensive/platoon options. George Valera is waiting in the minors, but whether or not he can stay healthy and become a true impact bat is not known at this time.
The Guardians are going to need to make multiple big moves this offseason to upgrade a lineup that is mostly disappointing on a good day. Kwan, Jose Ramirez, Josh Naylor, Andres Gimenez, and Bo Naylor are the only players who are currently seeing playing time that can be guaranteed to be regulars next season. The rest is a toss-up between young players with promise but who are flawed in one way or another, prospects that may get the call, and hopefully, external help that the front office brings in to not just supplement the roster but be key cogs in the lineup.