After a quiet start to the offseason, here are some players who the Guardians should target in free agency when things open back up in MLB. Cleveland is coming off a disappointing 2021 season where they finished 80-82.
Cleveland started a total of ten different outfielders in 2021, which is not ideal if you’re trying to win games. Myles Straw carried the load, starting 80% of the Guardians games in center field. Unfortunately, after Straw, things drop off. Steven Kwan started the second most amount of games in the outfield at just 49%, while Bradley Zimmer rounded out third place with 36%. These numbers are staggering low, and Cleveland needs an upgrade.
Bring in, Andrew McCutchen. A 35-year-old former MVP who is a shell of his past self may not seem very desirable, but the Guardians need a consistent option to roll out every day. In 2021 Cutch hit 27 bombs (the highest number since 2017) and took the field in 144 games. He is also still a great defender, and smart on the basepaths.
After a solid year with the Phillies, his contract is up and he should be a cheap option. McCutchen has made a boatload of money throughout his decorated career, so it would make sense that he would take a cheap 1-2 year deal. The aging veteran can also provide good leadership in the locker room to young outfielders like Oscar Mercado and Steven Kwan.
Cleveland could also use another infielder, preferably someone who can play multiple positions. However, with superstar Jose Ramirez, and established big leaguers like Ahmed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, the outfield should be the focal point when it comes to adding a bat.
Yes, you read that right, Brad Hand.
Hand is coming off an abysmal 2021 season, where he played for three different teams. His tenure with the Mets wasn’t bad, but he was awful with the Nationals and Blue Jays averaging an ERA of 5.43 with 7 losses. A lost season may seem unattractive to general managers, but I feel like this could be a good opportunity for the Guardians to revive his career and add a once elite left-handed bullpen arm.
The glory years for Brad Hand came between 2016-2020, so signing him for cheap in 2022 could pay off. Not to mention some of those “prime” years came when he was playing for Cleveland. Hand was an All-Star for Cleveland in 2019 and made the Mid-Summer Classic in ’17 and ’18 too while suiting up for San Diego.
Overall, I believe adding these two veterans would be beneficial to the Guardians. This is because adding them for cheap could result in a great payoff for a low risk. For a mediocre team in a weak division, this seems like a win-win.
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