Way Too Early Guardians Off-Season Predictions

Way Too Early Guardians Off-Season Predictions

Cole Paganelli
3 weeks ago
3 min read
Cleveland Guardians shortstop Amed Rosario throws the ball during game against the Chicago White Sox

With the 2022 season officially in the books, it is never too early to start looking ahead to next season. After a magical season that saw them win the AL Central, let’s take a look at what this offseason might have in store for the Cleveland Guardians and what to expect for next year.

Recapping 2022

The Guardians came into 2022 as severe underdogs to win the AL Central, trailing both the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins as favorites. When the dust settled, not only did the Guardians win the division, but they finished 92-70, 11 games ahead of the White Sox.

Offensively, Cleveland ranked 19th in scoring, averaging 4.23 runs per game. On the defensive side, they ranked eighth, allowing just 3.88 runs per game to opponents.

After sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card round, they unfortunately succumbed to the New York Yankees in five games in the ALDS.

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Offseason Activity

From a free agent standpoint, the Guardians are sitting in pretty good shape, as the only two free agents are catcher Austin Hedges and reliever Bryan Shaw.

Hedges played in 105 games, hitting just .163/.241/.248 with seven home runs and 30 runs batted in over 294 at-bats. 

In relief, Shaw went 6-2 in 60 games with a 5.40 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and he had 52 strikeouts in 58.1 innings of work.

The arbitration side of things is a little more complicated for Cleveland as they will have big raises due to players like Shane Bieber, Amed Rosario, Cal Quantrill, Josh Naylor, Zack Plesac, Aaron Civale, and James Karinchak. For a cost-conscious team like Cleveland, this could potentially lead to some trades this off-season.

After raises via arbitration, the Guardians will likely sit north of $70 million in terms of their overall payroll. It will be interesting to see what the Guardians do this offseason, but if the budget continues to be a concern, it could lead to the movement of players, including Amed Rosario, Zack Plesac, and Aaron Civale.

While they are more costly and would net a much greater return, it would be a bit tougher to envision the Guardians trading pitchers Shane Bieber or Cal Quantrill.

The Guardians could certainly use an upgrade at catcher. While the price tag on someone like Willson Contreras might be too high, a player like Christian Vazquez could interest Cleveland. They might address the catcher spot via a trade.

Elsewhere, the Guardians could use an outfielder or even a first baseman to platoon with Josh Naylor. Again, the Guardians won’t be working at the top of the market for someone like Aaron Judge, but someone like Trey Mancini could potentially be a fit.

Luckily for Cleveland, the outstanding play they received from rookies like Steven Kwan and Oscar Gonzalez make their offseason to-do list a little shorter. The club will also look for improvements from rookies like Konnor Pilkington, Nolan Jones, and Bo Naylor next season.

Odds For 2023

Heading into the offseason, the Guardians are tied for the 14th-best odds of winning the World Series at just (+3000). In the AL Central, only the White Sox have better odds at (+2800).

While the White Sox will be under a new manager this upcoming season, there are a lot of flaws with the SouthSiders that need to be addressed for them to truly contend.

For Cleveland, the biggest concern is what financial restrictions will be put in place. While no one expects the salary to go back up to the $146 million it was in 2018, if general manager Mike Chernoff has just a little bit of wiggle room in the budget to make some key additions, this team could once again run away with the division.

At the very least, the Guardians are set to compete for the divisional crown once again in 2023, thanks to an elite roster that was the youngest in the majors this season with an average age of just 25.

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