Franmil Reyes’ 2022 season hasn’t followed the expected path of a hitter who seemed to be on the upswing. That path’s next step could involve a journey to Columbus.
Following the Guardians’ 6-5, walk-off win over the Arizona Diamondbacks Monday night, Reyes was seen cleaning out his locker and hugging teammates. It is expected that he will be optioned to Triple-A Columbus, but with Tuesday being Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, a number of scenarios are in play.
Guardian’s trade deadline analysis: The Guardians, the 2022 MLB trade deadline and a few potential paths (and a Juan Soto question)
Reyes had what looked like a building-block 2021 season in which he hit 30 home runs in only 115 games, but his 2022 effectively has been a statistical nosedive. Reyes entered Monday night hitting .214 with a .606 OPS (he hit .254 with an .846 OPS a year ago) with nine home runs, nine doubles and 28 RBIs in 69 games. His wRC+ has dropped from 125 (meaning he was 25 percent above league average as a hitter) last year to 69 this season.
Reyes avoided arbitration with a one-year, $4.55 million deal for this season and is under club control for two seasons after 2022. But considering the influx of young outfield talent that has hit the majors — a group that includes Steven Kwan, Oscar Gonzalez, Nolan Jones and now Will Benson, who was promoted on Monday — the Guardians suddenly have a crowded situation considering the team would like to get plenty of at-bats for all of them. And in terms of long-term placement with the team’s plans, center fielder Myles Straw also has his spot, barring a trade.
Reyes, primarily a designated hitter with limited defensive utility, isn’t able to offer the Guardians lineup much value if he isn’t producing with his bat. His being optioned to Triple-A would free up the DH spot in the everyday lineup, affording the Guardians some added flexibility. That would have two primary advantages: it would allow Jose Ramirez to get off his feet defensively but remain in the lineup every now and then, and it’d allow the team to rotate the outfielders and find regular at-bats for their young outfielders.
It’s possible that Gonzalez, who has been on the injured list since July 2 with an intercostal strain, could return to the roster on Tuesday. Manager Terry Francona said prior to Monday’s game that the club would “reconvene” and see what the next step might be. Although there are other roster considerations, in addition to Gonzalez’s progress, that could lead to a different move. And beyond that, the looming trade deadline — 6 pm ET Tuesday — could lead to a number of roster moves.
Regardless, and barring some sweeping changes, it appears as though Reyes won’t be on the Guardians active roster come Tuesday in some fashion. He’ll either be sent to Triple-A to work through his hitting woes and try to get back on track, or he could potentially be dealt to another team willing to pay for his power potential.
Amed Rosario remains hot at the plate with the trade deadline upcoming
Another player squarely in the middle of what the Guardians might do ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, Amed Rosario, was also one of Monday night’s key contributors in their walk-off win.
Rosario, who began to warm up several weeks ago and has remained a mainstay stop in the Guardians lineup since that time, had a three-hit night with a home run and three RBIs.
Since July 14, Rosario has hit safely in 17 of his last 19 games and batted .361 with eight extra-base hits and 13 RBIs. Rosario also best represents the Guardians’ two-path trade deadline conundrum.
On one hand, Rosario has been a key piece to the lineup and a solid contributor lately. In the short term, he’s offered plenty of value while hitting between Steven Kwan and Jose Ramirez. On the other, Rosario is one of the few players on the Guardians major league roster who is only under club control through next season. His trade value to any contender seeking an upgrade at shortstop could be high, and his shorter-term control makes him a possible trade chip considering the Guardians roster is rife with players under club control for several years beyond next season.
“I feel as a group, it doesn’t seem like it bothers us at all, especially the way they played and have been playing the last couple of days,” Rosario said through a team translator, addressing the trade deadline. “In particular to me, I just completely block it. I just focus on my game.”
As with any deal, it could simply come down to whether another team offers both the right fit and enough value that the Guardians can’t say no. Or, perhaps the opportunity to make a trip to the postseason is too great to move Rosario barring an offer that blows them out of the water. After Monday’s win, the Guardians were just one game back of the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central, a division that due to poor stretches and injuries is very winnable. Rosario has been a key part of the Guardians’ contention efforts, but his club control is winding down and the Guardians are flush with middle infield prospects nearing (or already reaching) major league readiness.
The Guardians already have one clear piece to their long-term middle infield with Andres Gimenez, who already secured his first All-Star selection this season. He also helped to lead the Guardians to their walk-off win Monday night, as he finished with four hits and three stolen bases. In doing so, he became only the seventh Cleveland player to record four hits and three stolen bases in the same game and the first in more than 20 years. The last to accomplish that feat was Kenny Lofton, who did it on Sept. 3, 2000.
“He’s a keeper,” said manager Terry Francona. “He’s getting better right in front of our eyes. The ball out of the box where he gets the double. It’s like he watches Jose and takes it to heart and puts it [out there].”
“It’s pretty incredible right now,” added Cal Quantrill. “The way he’s running the bases. The way he’s playing D. It’s really a complete player. I’m just so impressed. We all knew he was good, I just didn’t realize that he was this good at everything. It’s been a blast to watch. Couldn’t feel more confident in my second baseman.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at [email protected]. Read more about the Guardians at www.beaconjournal.com/sports/cleveland-guardians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Franmil Reyes expected to be optioned to AAA; Amed Rosario stays hot