CLEVELAND, Ohio – Doodles in my Guardians notebook:
1. Not only do the Guardians finally have an outfielder, they also have an outfielder who wants to stay in Cleveland. That’s why the Guardians signing Myles Straw to a five-year, $25 million extension plus two team options is such a big deal for the franchise.
2. As Terry Francona told me in spring training when I mentioned Straw: “When you hit the ball in the middle of the field, that’s an out.” The manager was also happy to have a legitimate first hitter with speed. Last summer, Straw came to Cleveland in a trade with Houston for Phil Maton and potential receiver Yainer Diaz. He hit .285 (.739 OPS) with 16 doubles and 42 runs scored in 60 games. He was 13 of 14 in stolen bases.
3. Straw, 27, gave up three years of possible free agency — one is the guaranteed final year of the contract (2026), plus two team options ($8m, $8.5m) . Straw was cut from his high school team as a freshman. He joined his junior varsity team (St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida). He was eventually drafted in the 12th round by Houston – signing for $100,000. So it was his first chance to make a lot of money, at least in the bloated world of baseball.
4. This comes after the new $150 million contract extension for Jose Ramirez puts him under the team’s control for seven years. I’ve heard fans gloating about the Ramirez deal but talking about how it doesn’t improve the team. It’s a snapshot instead of an overview. If Ramirez hadn’t signed and started the 2022 season with a two-year contract, the rumors that he would be traded would weigh on the team. It stinks of team morale.
5. Instead, Ramirez, 29, will be there. Not only that, he insisted on a no-trade clause. It is believed to be the first full no-trade clause ever given to a Cleveland player. Ramirez’s signing also helps to discuss contract extensions with other young players.
6. Spring expansion activity began with the signing of Emmanuel Clase to a five-year, $20 million deal with two years of team options. Guardians president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff have now recruited their closest star (Clase), elite all-around player (Ramirez) and top outfielder (Straw). This is how you build a team for the future.
7. Credit should also go to owner Paul Dolan, who had to give the green light to these deals. Dolan inserted himself into Ramirez’s talks to ensure the deal was done.
8. The Guardians have other players who seem like good candidates for expansions. They spoke to Shane Bieber. I don’t know where it is. He is represented by football super agent Drew Rosenhaus. Bieber agreed to a $6 million contract, avoiding arbitration. His negotiations were led by Jason (brother of Drew) Rosenhaus and Dennis Wyrick.
9. Yes, I would like to see Guardians add another veteran bat. But the steps they are taking to build a foundation with current players are very encouraging. It shows that the players (and their agents) believe something good can happen in Cleveland.
10. Finally, some fans have asked for my prediction for this season: I have the Guardians 77-85 unless they find a way to improve the roster with a trade. Too many holes in the programming.
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