Antonetti named Exec of the Year after young Guardians take leap in '22

November 8th, 2022

LAS VEGAS -- Sometimes the best moves a team can make are internal rather than external, which Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti proved this season.

Antonetti had no fear of calling on any up-and-coming prospect this year, which awarded him and his team with a 92-win season and an AL Central title. Now Antonetti can have some hardware of his own: He was named MLB’s 2022 Executive of the Year on Tuesday.

Antonetti was honored at the General Managers Meetings in Las Vegas after being voted by his peers of all 30 clubs prior to the start of the postseason. This is the fifth season of MLB’s Executive of the Year Award and the first time Cleveland’s front office has been recognized.

“There were so many teams, so many organizations, so many executives that were incredibly deserving," said Antonetti.

Two former Cleveland execs who have gone on to enjoy success elsewhere were glowing in their praise while introducing their friend.

“I know that he will not take any credit at all for getting it," said Blue Jays executive VP and GM Ross Atkins. "What separates Chris in many ways is his heart. [He's a] really special person, very special leader to so many, and we’re very proud of him.”

D-backs executive VP and GM Mike Hazen added, “He has such an amazing quality of making you feel so important and so good about yourself.”

The Guardians knew they had an enormous puzzle to put together in regard to their roster this season when they decided to add an astounding 11 prospects to the 40-man roster last November.

The team had little wiggle room. It also had little experience to rely on. The Guardians were active in attempting to acquire Matt Olson from Oakland but lost him to Atlanta. From there, smaller acquisitions like backup catcher and Minor League signee would have to suffice.

Instead of crumbling, the organization figured out how to thrive.

“It was actually years of hard work by a lot of teammates in this room," Antonetti said.

It opened the door to pass the baton to the next wave of talent by being willing to take a chance on prospects like , and by carrying them on the Opening Day roster. Kwan forced his way into the starting lineup and continued to prove all season long that he was the best risk the club could’ve taken. And that precedent led to a shockingly exciting and successful year.

Cleveland ended up having 17 players make their Major League debuts this season. Excluding 1901, it tied the franchise record for most debuts in a single season (1912, 1914).

The Guardians trusted what they had, opting against making moves at the Trade Deadline (and choosing to keep , who was once again a crucial piece of the offense). These decisions prompted an unexpected postseason berth and Antonetti’s fourth division title since he took his current role as president of baseball operations in 2016.

Alex Anthopoulos, Braves president of baseball operations, was the runner-up for Executive of the Year. Jerry Dipoto, Mariners president of baseball operations, finished third.