Antonetti on extension talks: 'I'm optimistic something will happen'

March 19th, 2023

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It’s the time of year when fans are ready to have all of their questions answered. Who will make the Opening Day roster? How long will the injured players be out? Which prospects are building the most excitement? And, sometimes most importantly, which players will receive contract extensions? 

There’s no one better than Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti to address all of these queries. While some things may take longer than just the short time that’s remaining in Spring Training to determine, the team usually likes to have all its contract discussions wrapped up by the start of the season. So, since this is the most pressing topic at the moment, let’s start there. 

As expected, Antonetti wouldn’t reveal too much information about the progress he and the club have made with any of the likely extension candidates on the roster, but he at least seemed hopeful something would get done. 

“I’ll be optimistic,” he said with a grin. “I’m optimistic something will happen. … Hopefully that optimism translates to reality.” 

Antonetti wouldn’t specify how many players he’s optimistic about extending, but there are a handful who could fall into this category. Starters like and quickly come to mind. Position players like , or even could also be negotiating. It wouldn’t be surprising to have more clarity on the situation over the next week. 

From there, Antonetti addressed an array of roster questions prior to Cleveland’s 3-1 win over the Rockies at Goodyear Ballpark on Sunday. Let’s take a look at the highlights of the conversation:

The rotation
The skinny: Aside from Bieber, the Guardians’ starters haven’t consistently seen positive results this spring. While Cactus League stats rarely matter, the team knows this is the point in camp that their pitchers should start to settle in.

The quote: “Each guy’s working on different things in different outings and building up to a point. … But Triston’s had a couple of good outings. Zach [Plesac], it was great to see him [get into the seventh on Saturday]. Shane’s had really good outings. Aaron [Civale] actually has pitched well in terms of what we were seeking. His quality of stuff is back, the way he’s executing, his delivery, so hopefully they can continue to build in a good direction. Cal [Quantrill] has been hard to get a read on just because he hasn’t been here.”

The bullpen
The skinny: There are two open spots in Cleveland’s bullpen now that is recovering from shoulder inflammation. The Guardians have a handful of relievers left in camp to evaluate, but the team may also consider starters like or to start the year in the ‘pen. Cleveland just has to determine if it’s worth committing to the idea that a starter wouldn’t get fully stretched out to open the year.

The quote: “One of the things that’s really important is depth, and if you have a guy who you’re counting on being a starting option and we have him in a bullpen role for a month, it makes it really hard for that guy to be a starting option if we have that need. Those [are] types of conversations we’re having all the time, and we have to weigh a lot of factors. It’s not simply just, oh, who’s throwing the best at the end of camp and that will be the group that will inevitably be on the roster.”

The bench
The skinny: The same question has remained all spring: Do the Guardians carry two extra outfielders and one infielder, or two infielders and one outfielder to fill their bench? It seems like the former is most likely. Infielders and and outfielders , Richie Palacios and  are fighting for three vacancies.

The quote: “If we have multiple players that have very similar skill sets, they can almost cannibalize at-bats from each other, versus if we have players with complementary skill sets that might be able to do different things, we might be able to find different opportunities for those guys to play. So, I do think that if Gabby or Tyler were on the team, we’d be able to get either guy a decent amount of at-bats because of their versatility and where they can play. If they’re both on the team, maybe that gets a little bit more complicated than somebody else that has a different skill set.”