The Cleveland Guardians did not make any notable acquisitions ahead of the MLB trade deadline. They also feature MLB's youngest roster. Nonetheless, this ball club is tied for first place in the AL Central with the Minnesota Twins as of this story's publication. Terry Francona's Guardians have defied expectations in 2022. But they still have work to do if they want to clinch a playoff spot.
Let's take a look at 3 post-deadline moves the Guardians must make.
3 post-MLB trade deadline moves Guardians must make
Stop using Bryan Shaw in high-leverage situations
Terry Francona is a great manager. In fact, he's one of the best managers in Guardians history. But for some reason, Francona has used Bryan Shaw in late game situations this year. And recently, Shaw has even started games for Cleveland.
In 2016, using Shaw in late game situations would have been acceptable. But the 34-year old isn't that kind of pitcher anymore. His ERA is over 5 on the season and his WHIP is above 1.40. I don't think Cleveland needs to cut Shaw from the roster, but he shouldn't be used in in high leverage situations.
Make Luke Maile the everyday catcher
The Guardians need all of the offense they can get. And catcher has been a major weakness for this team in terms of offensive production over the past few years. The Guardians value Austin Hedges' fielding prowess. But Hedges is slashing a miserable .173/.251/.270 on the season.
Meanwhile, Luke Mahle is slashing .222/.323/.333. Those numbers are not eye-popping, but they are far more respectable. Maile has also been swinging a hot bat as of late.
Inserting Maile into the lineup on a more consistent basis would allow Cleveland to deepen their lineup. Hedges is almost an automatic out most of the time. But Maile is a player who will give you a competitive at-bat.
Hedges can still be utilized on the roster as a backup catcher. Terry Francona can put him in for defensive purposes late in games as well. But there is no reason to have Austin Hedges starting games right now.
Sign/claim an extra bat
There are veteran hitters looking for a team on the free agent market. However, the Guardians need to keep an eye on the waiver wire. They recently DFA'd Franmil Reyes which took away a major power bat. So Cleveland should keep their eye out for any power options they can get.
Teams have not been shy about DFA'ing players this season. The Guardians could add a quality extra bat if one becomes available.
Cleveland's offense has been more productive than anyone could have imagined this year. They consistently put the ball in play and don't strike out much. But other than Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor, there aren't many power threats in this lineup. As a result, they are near the bottom of the league in home runs.
There isn't a specific player Cleveland should target at the moment. But they would be smart to monitor the waiver wire moving forward.
The Cleveland Guardians are playing a quality brand of baseball right now. They have a legitimate shot at winning the AL Central. And if they lose out on the division, the Wild Card is always an option.
These three organizational strategies will help Cleveland in the long run. No, they won't make or break the Guardians' season. But every little roster move plays a big role in the grand scheme of things.