Guardians waive Straw (sources); Fry, Arias make Opening Day roster

March 22nd, 2024

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- “It is messy.” Three words muttered through Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti’s lips Friday morning before the club's 10-0 win against the Rangers as the team tried to start piecing this roster puzzle together.

We learned three big pieces of information, some confirmed by the team, others not.

Let’s start with what wasn’t confirmed by the club. Per sources, Myles Straw has been placed on waivers, as reported by The Athletic. Let’s start here.

The last two seasons have been largely underwhelming for a center fielder that the Guardians locked up with a five-year, $25 million contract with options for two more seasons just before the start of the 2022 season. Since then, he’s slashed .229/.296/.284. He spent the offseason working on swing adjustments. He gained 10 pounds of muscle. He’s looked relatively decent at the plate this spring, but missed a chunk of time due to an illness.

It appears the Guardians have decided that it’s time to look at different options. Straw still has an option remaining, but placing him on waivers allows other teams a chance to claim him (and therefore, take on his salary) and removes him from the 40-man roster.

If he’d clear waivers, it’d be assumed that he’d head to Triple-A and the Guardians would have to continue paying the rest of his salary. Because his service time is between three and five years, he could elect free agency, but he’d, in turn, forfeit his current contract. That seems unlikely.

That’s all we have on Straw for now. The other two bits of news were confirmed by the Guardians.

One, Carlos Carrasco and Tyler Beede were told they’ll both make the Opening Day roster. One will be the fifth starter and one will work out of the bullpen.

Secondly, the team has informed the following 11 players that they’ve also made the roster:

José Ramírez
Andrés Giménez
Brayan Rocchio
Josh Naylor

Bo Naylor
Austin Hedges

Gabriel Arias
David Fry

Steven Kwan
Ramón Laureano
Tyler Freeman

This brings us to a handful of other questions.

Why did Arias and Rocchio both make the roster?

Rocchio is expected to get the bulk of the playing time at shortstop. Arias will fill a utility role. But when they also have Fry and Freeman who can bounce all around the field, why do they need Arias, too? I think the Guardians are still working through how exactly everyone will get time. It’s clear that the theme of this roster, though, is versatility.

“When you have a team that has a third baseman, a second baseman, a left fielder and a first baseman that are going to play virtually every day,” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said, “you want to have as many options as you can for off days, for moving guys around and to create more opportunity for yourself.”

If Arias and Fry are handling the utility roles, where does that leave Freeman?
With so many guys who can bounce around, it’s clear that Freeman is mostly being looked at in the outfield right now. And because Straw seems to be out of the equation, Freeman has a legitimate possibility of claiming the center field job.

“I think Tyler has done, in our view, an extraordinary job in transitioning as a very capable center fielder and outfielder in general,” Antonetti said. “So we view him as a very, very good and real option for us in the outfield, as well as the infield.”

What’s left to sort through?

The Guardians are halfway there on the fifth spot in their starting rotation. They know that the spot will be occupied by Carrasco or Beede, but that’s still being decided. The bullpen will have one of those two plus at least Emmanuel Clase and Scott Barlow. Xzavion Curry and Ben Lively may not be ready by Opening Day (set back by respiratory virus).

The hope is that Nick Sandlin can bounce back from the virus quickly. That leaves Eli Morgan, Tim Herrin, Hunter Gaddis and Cade Smith to fill out the bullpen. If Lively and/or Curry could be available, then someone of this group would make the cut.

The last decision to make will be the outfield. There are two remaining spots on the position player side. Straw seems to be out of the running, which means it comes down to Rule 5 Draft pick Deyvison De Los Santos, Estevan Florial and Will Brennan.

The most likely scenario is that Cleveland decides against trying to carry De Los Santos, but as Antonetti already said, this is a messy situation. Anything can happen.