The decision of Oscar Mercado is another step with a view to the future roster of the Guardians

The decision of Oscar Mercado is another step with a view to the future roster of the Guardians

June 11, 2022;  Cleveland, Ohio, USA  Cleveland Guardians right-back Oscar Gonzalez, 39, is celebrating after scoring in his fourth game against Oakland Athletics at Progressive Field.  Mandatory credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

June 11, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA Cleveland Guardians right-back Oscar Gonzalez, 39, is celebrating after scoring in his fourth game against Oakland Athletics at Progressive Field. Mandatory credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Guardians, owners of the newest baseball roster and a team of 26 men younger than the Triple-A midfield, are pushing for 2022. But along the way, Cleveland continued to make roster decisions with one eye today and the other trained tomorrow.

One aspect of having such a young roster, along with the team that has been cutting tens of millions of dollars in recent years, is that the Guardians wanted to make sure they found out what they had in some players before breaking ties with them. and allowing them to go elsewhere. It was something that manager Terry Francona echoed this spring, saying that the team needed to find some answers in many places and the only way to do that is to play them.

Lewis: Young, energetic Guards are pushing to fight, threatening AL Central

The Guardians entered the Opening Day with five players in the bubble who were out of contention for the minor leagues: outfielder Bradley Zimmer, first baseman Bobby Bradley, utility infielder Yu Chang, left-handed pitcher Logan Allen and outfielder Oscar Mercado.

In all five cases, the Guardians had newer talents who could be ready at some point in 2022 to replace them. And with Mercado set to be assigned ahead of Tuesday’s game in Minnesota to make room for Franmil Reyes’s return from injury list, all five are no longer on the roster.

Zimmer (29) ousted almost immediately from a spot by Steven Kwan (24) this spring. Zimmer split after the Guardians Opening Day match against the Kansas City Royals in exchange for the relief Anthony Castro (25).

Bradley, 26, lost his way to the bats at the first base when Owen Miller, 25, vindicated daily bats and Josh Naylor (who turned 25 on Wednesday) returned from ankle surgery. Bradley was nominated, canceled and relegated to Triple-A.

Allen, 25, was nominated because the Guardians had a lot of options ready to contribute. It was then claimed by the Baltimore Orioles.

With Miller and Naylor handling the first base, Andres Gimenez (23) playing well in the second base and Ernie Clement (26) handling an extremely useful role, Chang (26) was left without his own role. After being nominated, he was exchanged for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Mercado was the last of the on-the-bubble hold-outs since the beginning of the season. The last one in a group of players to whom the team wanted to give a little extra time. In all five cases, the team has advanced to players with less league experience and additional long-term control.

Abroad, Kwan and Oscar Gonzalez (24) have played larger roles in the lineup, along with Richie Palacios (25) to a lesser extent. Pitchers such as Eniel De Los Santos (26), Sam Hedges (25), Eli Morgan (26), Trevor Stefan (26) and others, have joined together to form one of the best bulbs in 2022. Inside, Jimenez, Miller and Clement have met the needs.

Mercado, for example, is 27 years and 188 days old as of Wednesday. And yet, he was the seventh oldest player on the Guardians’ roster. The Guardians were already young. They are younger now.

But this youth movement has results in the short term as well. With the Guardians winning 6-5 in 11 innings in Minnesota on Tuesday night, they moved into first place with the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central. The Guardians actually have a slight winning percentage advantage, but it is an advantage that will be equalized as soon as the Guardians catch the total number of games – until that happens, the Guardians and the Twins are essentially tied for the league lead.

Across the roster, the 27-year-olds who represent some of the club’s most veteran voices are being replaced by 24- or 25-year-olds. The roster continues to gather in the name of a youth movement, the result of a series of transactions (Francisco Lindor, Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and several others) that have led to a healthier secondary league system.

In Zimmer, Bradley (who remains in the organization), Allen, Chang and now Mercado, the Guardians provided an extra leash to find out what they had. And even in a series of players with several years of control, these five have given way to an even newer wave of players ready to contribute.

The Guardians had the newest roster in the major leagues on the opening day and only added extra youngsters along the way to create the organization for 2023 and beyond. With that, however, came the tie in the first place and the opportunity to make a run until October earlier than most expected.

You can contact Ryan Lewis at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read more about the Guardians at www.beaconjournal.com/sports/cleveland-guardians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.

This article first appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal: Guardians Draw for First Place, Continue to Build Rosters for the Future

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