The manager search is over. Stephen Vogt donned his No. 12 Cleveland jersey for the first time in an introductory press conference at Progressive Field on Friday. But now that the Guardians’ biggest headache of the offseason has been relieved, where do they go from here?
Set the coaching staff
The Guardians will return most of their coaching staff from the 2023 season. The team announced that third base and infield coach Mike Sarbaugh, replay coordinator Mike Barnett and bullpen coach Rigo Beltrán will not be back for ’24. Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said that the team is also waiting to hear if bench coach DeMarlo Hale will come back next season.
“We would love to have DeMarlo back,” Antonetti said on Friday, “but he typically takes a little bit of time after each season to assess where things are before making a final decision.”
So, with the help of Vogt, the Guardians will need to start the hunt to replace those three vacancies on the coaching staff. The team already added one new face by hiring Craig Albernaz, who interviewed for the manager job, as Major League field coordinator -- a new position to the big league coaching staff. Albernaz will share some of the day-to-day bench coach duties while also working in other performance and fundamental areas.
Establish the blueprint
It’s hard to figure out the goals of the offseason and the mantra for the 2024 season without a manager. Now that Vogt is in place, the Guardians’ front office can work closely with the new skipper to put together the best roster and plan for next season.
This starts with Vogt getting familiar with the current players expected to arrive in Goodyear, Ariz., next spring. He has already reached out to seven or eight players and is hoping to message with the rest of the team before the holiday season rolls around. He has also already met with Shane Bieber for lunch in Arizona since being hired.
“I really connected with him,” Vogt said. “I’m really trying to gather their thoughts on what they’re looking for moving forward. I want to hear from them because it’s their clubhouse, and myself and the staff will want to support whatever they’re looking for.”
Boost the offense
There’s only so much stock you can put into up-and-coming prospects. Sure, Bo Naylor may settle in more in his first full season in the Majors next year. No. 2 prospect Kyle Manzardo could blossom into the middle-of-the-order bat the Guardians believe he can be. But the team still needs to get more offensive help externally if it wants to assure it sees more production in 2024.
The most likely way the Guardians will acquire talent is via trade. If Cleveland can get the return it demands for someone like Bieber, despite the right elbow injury he suffered in the second half of the season, he could be the best option to boost this offense, considering he only has one year of control remaining and the future of the Guardians’ rotation seems to be bright. However, the phones will be ringing about a handful of players. Maybe the team will find other ways to add to this offense.
Regardless of who walks through the door, Vogt believes that his recent experience as a player will be able to benefit him as he attempts to get the best out of his own roster every night, especially when it comes to young players.
“Once players know they belong in the big leagues, that’s when they get dangerous and when their careers take off,” Vogt said. “That’s my job and the job of our staff, is to instill that in our guys and get them to realize that they belong here and how we can just absolutely propel their careers.”