A breakdown of Cleveland's roster

October 25th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- As we start to turn the page on the 2021 season, let’s take a look at 32 players who saw the most time with Cleveland’s big league club and what their roles may be moving forward:


($7 million team option): Pérez’s option will likely be declined. The team may be able to sign him for a smaller contract, but Pérez will certainly explore his options with other clubs if the option is declined.

(third-year arbitration eligible): The Guardians will need a dependable backstop behind the dish to help lead a young pitching staff once again if Pérez isn’t back. Until a prospect like Bo Naylor is ready to get to the big leagues, Hedges could be the best option for the team to turn to in order to bridge the gap.

First base

(pre-arbitration): For now, there’s no reason to believe Cleveland wouldn’t have Bradley back at first base. But the team needs to address its offense over the winter. Although Bradley is a power bat, if the club finds a better, more consistent option at first, it may look into it.

Second base

(pre-arbitration): Clement will be an option to use as a utility guy next season. It’s unlikely he’d win the starting second base spot if Cleveland doesn’t address it externally over the winter.

(pre-arbitration): Miller could earn the starting second base job if the club wants to wait to turn to some of its younger talent like Gabriel Arias or Tyler Freeman until later in the season.

(pre-arbitration): Chang, like Miller, will be an option for the team at second base, but would likely fall more in the utility category.

Third base

José Ramírez ($11 million team option): Expect Ramírez’s option to be picked up. The team may be willing to listen to offers for a potential Ramírez trade, however all signs seem to be pointing toward him returning as Cleveland’s third baseman for at least 2022.


(second-year arbitration eligible): As of now, Cleveland’s president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said the shortstop job is Rosario’s after the solid season he had in 2021. However, this isn’t set in stone. Rosario may end up serving in a super utility role if Arias or someone else takes over at shortstop. But the team needs Rosario’s bat in the lineup.

(pre-arbitration): Like Miller, Giménez will be in the running for the starting second base job, especially if Rosario is the Opening Day shortstop.

Left field

(pre-arbitration): After a rough 2020 and a shaky 2021, it’s more difficult to envision Mercado getting a lot of playing time next season. The outfield will be the team’s No. 1 area to address this winter, and if obtains an outfielder, Mercado may be the first to lose his spot.

(potential Super Two player): If Ramirez doesn’t qualify for arbitration this year, it’d be easier for the team to roll the dice on giving him another chance, especially if he’s a fourth outfielder and not getting penciled into the outfield every day. If he ends up being a Super Two player, Cleveland will have to consider whether he’s worth forking out a little extra money.

Center field

(pre-arbitration): Cleveland finally found its everyday center fielder in Straw, who was acquired at the 2021 Trade Deadline. He’ll be back as the team’s starting center fielder next season.

(potential Super Two player): Zimmer is in a similar spot as Ramirez. Now that center field is locked up by Straw, his defensive impact isn’t as great in the corners. And even though he had some monster blasts this last season, his offense wasn’t consistent enough to guarantee his spot on the 40-man roster next year.

Right field

(pre-arbitration): With 40-man roster spots being so difficult to come by, Johnson may be another player the team has to deeply consider if he’s earned his spot. His time in the Majors has been brief, but it hasn’t been the smoothest on either side of the ball. And until George Valera is ready to make his big league impact, Cleveland may need to find its outfield answers externally.

(first-year arbitration eligible): Reyes will be back as the team’s designated hitter next year and is hoping to be able to get a little more time in the outfield.

Starting pitching

(pre-arbitration): Allen will need to come into camp next year and prove he can get back into the 2021 Spring Training grove he was in. Developing consistency this winter will be huge for him to force his way back into the team’s pitching plans moving forward.

(first-year arbitration eligible): Bieber’s contract will be tendered and he is certainly one who could engage in extension talks with the team this offseason. Despite how those develop, it seems likely he’ll be back as Cleveland’s ace in 2022.

(pre-arbitration): Civale was one of the most dominant hurlers in the Majors when a finger sprain sidelined him for over two months. He has the potential of making he and Bieber a lethal one-two combo in next year’s rotation.

(pre-arbitration): Hentges gives the club some rotational depth, but can also be used out of the bullpen, which is where he got most of his Major League innings this past season.

(pre-arbitration): If McKenzie can pick up where he left off this past year, he’ll help the club have a dominant starting rotation. He battled with command early in the season but after a demotion to Triple-A, he returned with an electric arsenal that will lead to him earning a starting job next year.

(pre-arbitration): Mejía had better results out of the club’s bullpen than he did in the starting rotation. He may end up being a relief option for Cleveland moving forward.

(pre-arbitration): Morgan showed this team has starting pitching depth once again when he was called upon in the middle of last season to help fill in when a handful of injuries plagued the starting rotation. It took him some time to settle in, but the club learned it has another reliable, exciting up-and-coming arm waiting in the Minors.

(pre-arbitration): Maybe Plesac’s name will pop up in some trade rumors this winter, but assuming he remains in Cleveland, he’ll look to show he can overcome the adversity of a shakier 2021 season and get back to his 2020 form next year.

(potential Super Two player): After entering last spring fighting to prove he belongs in the rotation, Quantrill will come back next February knowing he’ll be back in his starting role. After his stellar second half of the 2021 season in the rotation, he’s proven that he can help make this starting five one of the most dominant in the league once again.

Relief pitching

(pre-arbitration): Clase proved to be one of the best closers in the league this past season and will be back in that role in 2022.

(pre-arbitration): Cleveland got a decent look at Garza, who owned a 4.71 ERA in 21 appearances in 2021, and may consider him for its bullpen in 2022.

(first-year arbitration eligible): Gose was so intriguing this year that he may have earned the right to hold on to his 40-man roster spot over the winter. The outfielder-turned-reliever consistently posted triple digits on the radar gun, showed tremendous improvement in his command and could prove to be a weapon for Cleveland moving forward.

(pre-arbitration): Karinchak will have some work to do over the winter to get himself back on the right path. One of Cleveland’s most intriguing arms struggled with command over the summer, which prompted his demotion to Triple-A. If he can get himself straightened out, he’ll be back in high-leverage innings in 2022.

(free agent after World Series): Parker was one of the most-used relievers Cleveland had this past season, but unless the team can bring him back on a Minor League deal next spring, it seems more likely a reunion isn’t in the future.

(free agent after World Series): Similar to Parker, Shaw will likely need to sign a Minor League deal (like he did this past year) with Cleveland to come back next season. The team usually likes to have veteran options at camp without guaranteed spots to evaluate and he could fall in this category again. But his numbers from this season may also be enough to land him a guaranteed spot elsewhere.
(pre-arbitration): Cleveland’s Rule 5 Draft pick lasted all season on the 40-man roster and will likely continue to work out of the bullpen next season.

(third-year arbitration): Wittgren is team’s most likely candidate to be non-tendered. After being such a consistent relief arm in 2019 and ’20, he had his first rocky big league season – one that probably wouldn’t inspire the team to want to increase his salary in arbitration.