The Cleveland Guardians have been active in adding to the fringes of the roster this offseason. Before I dive too deep into the thought process (more of which you can find in the latest episode of the California Penal League podcast), this always seemed to be the likely route the team would take this winter.
Right field is still a major void, and now that the marquee names are starting to come off the board, it shouldn't be too long before the Guards are linked to some potential affordable pieces.
A Review of the Guardians' Offseason Moves Thus Far
The Guardians got things started when they claimed first baseman Alfonso Rivas on waivers from the Pirates back on November 2nd. Mere days later, the club claimed catcher Christian Bethancourt from the Rays. Neither will likely make any impact on the 2024 roster. Bethancourt was already dealt to the Marlins earlier this week to clear a 40-man roster spot. Meanwhile, Rivas seemingly has a thousand roadblocks in his way to get any playing time at either first base or DH, and his time on the 40-man could be limited.
November 17th saw the Guardians finalize two deals, the first being that they sent Cal Quantrill to Colorado in exchange for catcher Kody Huff, and the second saw Enyel De Los Santos head west to San Diego in exchange for right-handed reliever Scott Barlow.
Huff has never played above A-ball, so the only reason for his inclusion on this list is that he was simply acquired. However, fans can expect Barlow to be a seventh/eighth-inning stalwart, hopefully brining some stability to the back end of the pen this season.
Jaime Barria joined the club on a minor-league deal in early December, and over the past two seasons he's transitioned from failed starter into a long-man role. This is clearly a move to add depth to that department, and should Xzavion Curry see a move to the rotation, Barria could replace Curry's bullpen role.
However, possibly the biggest surprise addition came during the Rule 5 draft, when the team selected 3B/1B Deyvison De Los Santos. The 20-year-old will have to stick on the active roster in 2024 or be returned to the Diamondbacks. His raw power potential can make one salivate, but DDLS will have to contend with the likes of Kyle Manzardo, Josh Naylor, and José Ramírez for playing time. Expect him to be buried down the bench in an effort to sneak him through the Rule 5 process.
The most recent two moves include the reunion of catcher Austin Hedges and right-hander Ben Lively. Hedges more than anything will provide veteran leadership and maybe the occasional relief appearance, but he'll most likely be asked to help aid in Bo Naylor's continued development. Lively could see some spot starts as well, but will ultimately serve as a depth piece.
Thus far, Barlow and De Los Santos seem to be the two most impactful additions, while Lively and Barria could be asked to do more if the club decides to move a player like Shane Bieber. It's worth repeating that the offseason is far from done, and the front office still has work to do. The Bally Sports hearing set for December 15th should shed some further light on the team's financial situation for 2024, and we could then see further movement as a result.