The Cleveland Guardians roster is pretty deep - but not complete

Division Series - New York Yankees v Cleveland Guardians - Game Three
Division Series - New York Yankees v Cleveland Guardians - Game Three / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The Cleveland Guardians front office and coaching staff found out a lot in 2022. Sixteen players made their debut, and some are cementing themselves as core pieces moving forward. Then, this offseason, the front office went out and added to the roster in the forms of Josh Bell and Mike Zunino (so far). What this all means is that the Guardians are pretty much set with their 26-man roster and have some depth to boot.

The 2022 season saw the emergence of rookies Steven Kwan and Oscar Gonzalez as they helped to solidified the outfield. Others like Andrés Giménez, Eli Morgan, Sam Hentges, and Triston McKenzie took the next step in their development and began to define their roles on the team.

With that said, when envisioning the Guardians' Opening Day roster, it's pretty clear who is likely to make that cut; arguably 22 or 23 of the spots are likely already accounted for.

For a point of reference here is the projected starting lineup; Zunino, Bell, Gimenez, José Ramírez, Amed Rosario, Steven Kwan, Myles Straw, Gonzalez, and Josh Naylor. Looking at the starting rotation, Shane Bieber, McKenzie, Cal Quantrill, and Aaron Civale are all locks. The Guardians' bench is likely to be comprised of one of the Wills (Brennan or Benson), Gabriel Arias, and probably Tyler Freeman. Finally, the bullpen will likely be helmed by Emmanuel Clase, James Karinchak, Nick Sandlin, Trevor Stephan, Hentges, Enyel De Los Santos, Morgan, and possibly recent 40-man addition Tim Herrin.

Now, I am assuming here that Zach Plesac isn't long for this roster, otherwise he most certainly slots into the the starting rotation. But then again, as was the case last year, and will likely be the same in 2024, the Guardians need to learn what they have in the likes of Cody Morris, Konnor Pilkington, Peyton Battenfield, Xzavion Curry, Hunter Gaddis, Joey Cantillo, and Logan Allen. And by the way, the second wave of starters coming between 2024 and 2025 will have you salivating even more when thinking about their future.

But that means the roster is not 100% set, and upgrades/alterations can, and maybe should, be made. The front office certainly still needs to address a backup catcher, and likely another bullpen arm (Andrew Chafin or Bryan Shaw anyone?!). Many, including myself, also think it would be a good idea to get another starting pitcher as well.

I would also expect the club to pursue extensions with some of the core pieces. McKenzie, Quantrill, Giménez, and Bieber (yeah, I know that one will be difficult) all come to mind. But locking some of these guys up now should only help keep that window of contention open even longer.

At the end of the day (and year), the Guardians possess a roster very capable of defending their AL Central title and, with any luck, making a deeper run in the playoffs. Will the roster look the same on Opening Day as it does following the trade deadline? Probably not. The system is stacked with prospects and it's possible some players will falter, but that still doesn't take away from the fact that this team is being built for the long haul.

The 2022 season was a bit of a surprise in the fact that the team wasn't expected to compete, but they did and we should now all buckle up for what is about to come.