You can count the Cleveland Guardians out of the Lucas Giolito sweepstakes

With the type of contract Lucas Giolito is expected to get on the open market, there's just no way he's coming back to the Cleveland Guardians in 2024.
Cleveland Guardians v Detroit Tigers
Cleveland Guardians v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

This probably comes as no shock, and there's always the non-zero chance he comes back following a fruitless free-agent quest, but it's pretty safe to assume Lucas Giolito won't be back with the Cleveland Guardians in 2024.

According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Giolito, 29, is expected to command a contract in the range of $50-80 million this offseason.

Giolito came over to the Guardians in September, picked up on waivers after the Los Angeles Angels cleaned house in another lost season. Giolito made six starts with Cleveland, compiling an unsightly 7.04 ERA in 30 2/3 innings. To be fair, he had a stretch of three decent starts, including a 12-strikeout performance against the World Series champion Rangers, but he gave up five or more runs in his other three starts; that includes a nine-run implosion against the Twins in his first start with the Guardians.

So Why Will Giolito Get a Big Contract?

It's simple: He's a starting pitcher with a track record of success. And even if that success is getting further and further in the rear-view mirror, that doesn't matter to teams with money to spend and a need for starting pitching. It's the most valuable commodity in baseball, and teams will always have to pay a premium for it on the open market.

To that extent, it's part of the reason why the Guardians remain so successful year in and year out. Developing so much pitching talent gives Cleveland the flexibility to do essentially anything it wants with its pitching staff. For example, the Guardians could very well sign Shane Bieber to a somewhat-friendly extension - or they could flip him for a haul, much like what the team did with Aaron Civale at the trade deadline (if you don't believe me, just look at what Kyle Manzardo is doing in the Arizona Fall League). The same appears to be happening to Cal Quantrill, who could very well be on the move this offseason as well.

But by not having to desperately hunt for starting pitching every offseason, the Guardians consistently position themselves for success, even with a meager payroll (which, fingers crossed, is about to get just a little less meager over the next few years).

As for Giolito, to be fair, he was truly one of the better pitchers in baseball from 2019 to 2021, compiling a 3.47 ERA, delicious 3.54 FIP, 129 ERA+, and an All-Star selection in 72 starts. This stretch included a no-hitter in the shortened 2020 season, a year in which he ultimately finished seventh in the Cy Young voting (you know, the year Bieber won his Cy Young).

But any team paying for Giolito's services moving forward will be desperately hoping he can recapture even some of that past magic. That hoping and praying will just have to come at a hefty price.