Hopes of a notable Guardians free-agent addition shattered

Philadelphia Phillies v Cleveland Guardians
Philadelphia Phillies v Cleveland Guardians / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

The very few fans that were still holding out hope that the Cleveland Guardians would still make an addition of note via agency saw them disappear into nothingness as general manager Mike Chernoff did his best Thanos snap impression.

Chernoff was quite clear that the organization will be focusing on internal options rather than looking for an external addition to the lineup.

In case anyone was skeptical of the words of Chernoff, owner Paul Dolan stated that improvements to their lineup would be of the internal variety.

While there is some validity to the organization needing to find out what their options are capable of, it is incredibly disappointing to see the Guardians forego the free agent addition process to do so. This is a roster that is in desperate need of some power in their lineup, and not even considering a potential meaningful addition is just a slap in the face of every single fan.

It would be one thing if the Guardians' farm system was full of elite hitting talent who figure to be lineup mainstays sooner rather than later. There is not a Juan Soto or Ronald Acuna Jr. type waiting for his call in Cleveland's system. Yes, those are elite players and not necessarily all that fair to name when evaluating Cleveland's prospects, but it shows how important it is to combine roster-addition strategies. The Guardians must add established major league talent, in addition to hoping their own prospects develop into everyday contributors. Unfortunately, it seems like they are removing a key component of that from the equation at this time.

This is a lineup that needs power, particuarly in the outfield, and external help is not on the way.

There appear to be two factors making a major impact on the Guardians' decision not to explore options of note in free agency. First is the television deal, which has been discussed and mentioned about 10,000 different times by now. This has been noted time after time as a reason why the organization has been very financially risk-averse and has opted to be relatively unexciting. Salary swaps and low-level acquisitions have been how the Guardians have approached this offseason. These moves do not have a ton of risk, but the reward they receive is also likely to be on the lower end of the spectrum as well.

The second would be the free agent busts of last offseason. Cleveland went out of their comfort zone to sign Mike Zunino and Josh Bell, only to get burned by a catcher who could not hit and a first baseman/designated hitter who was a drain on the lineup's productivity. Bell would eventually have a little hot streak after being sent to Miami but would settle back to around his career averages. The Guardians swinging and missing (like Zunino and Bell did far too often in Cleveland last year) appears to have scared them off from taking any chances on players of note, and the uncertain television revenue situation is only reinforcing their decision to continue their risk-averse behavior.

While it is understandable as to why the organization is cutting back spending given the current financial landscape and their recent misses in free agency, it does not mean that this approach should be given the complete pass that some give far too often. The prime years of Jose Ramirez are limited and could be over much sooner than anyone realizes. Continuing to waste elite years from one of the best players in franchise history is insulting to him, his teammates, and the fanbase.