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Cleveland Guardians 2024 projected position player starters

It's been a fairly quiet offseason for the Cleveland Guardians. They made a few small additions to the roster but nothing that would be considered as a major addition. They have a new manager in Steven Vogt who enters 2024 as a first time big league manager replacing the retired Terry Francona.


So what might his starting lineup look like?


Catcher:


Bo Naylor enters the 2024 season as the projected starter after slashing .237/.339/.470 with 11 homers and 32 RBI's in 67 games with the Guardians in 2023. The 23 year old gives the Guardians an offensive threat at the catcher position that they have not had in a long time. One of the offseason additions was bringing back veteran backstop Austin Hedges on a 1-year deal to backup Naylor. While Hedges doesn't give you much at the plate, he is a solid defender and handler of pitchers as well as a leader in the clubhouse.



First Base:


Bo's older brother Josh Naylor projects as the opening day starter at first base. Naylor is coming off of a stellar 2023 that saw him hit over .300 (.308) for the first time in his career with 17 homers and 97 RBI's in 121 games. He is also the emotional heart and soul of this team. Guardians top 10 prospect Kyle Manzardo, who was acquired from Tampa Bay for Aaron Civale last season, projects to open the season at AAA Columbus. Manzardo made a splash in the Arizona Fall League slashing .272/.340/.565 with 6 homers in 22 games. Expect to see him at some point in 2024.



Second base:


Andres Gimenez is firmly planted at second base for the Guardians. The 2022 All-Star and back-to-back Gold Glove winner looks to bounce back offensively from a disappointing 2023 season that saw him hit .251 after hitting .297 in 2022.



Shortstop:


The shortstop position may be the biggest question mark coming into spring training with a trio of candidates. Brayan Rocchio has the most potential of the available candidates. The sweet swinging, sweet fielding, switch hitting Rocchio hit .280 with 7 homers and 65 RBI's at AAA Columbus and .247 in 23 games with the Guardians. He looks to be the leading candidate heading into Goodyear. Tyler Freeman spent 6 years in the Guardians minor league system doing nothing but hitting with a career .311 minor league average including .319 at AAA Columbus last season. He hit .242 in 64 games with the Guardians last season. While he is solid defensively, Freeman has the weakest arm of the three candidates. Rounding it out is Gabriel Arias who spent the 2023 season with the Guardians batting only .210 but did show some pop with 10 homers. Arias is also a very good defender but may have too many holes in his swing to be considered as an everyday player.



Third base:


There are no candidates at third base outside of Guardians superstar Jose Ramirez who is the heart and soul of the Guardians offense. The five time All-Star third baseman is coming off a 2023 season where he slashed .282/.356/.475 with 24 homers and 80 RBI's. There is no doubt who will be standing at third base and batting third in the lineup come Opening Day.



Center field:


Another position up for grabs is centerfield. Myles Straw has manned the position for the Guardians for the past 2-1/2 seasons with Gold Glove caliber defense but not much offensively. Straw hit .285 in 60 games with the Guardians in 2021 after being acquired from Houston. But his last two seasons he has only managed to hit .221 and .238 in 2022 and 2023 respectively. Looking to push Straw is newly acquired Estevan Florial who was once a top prospect in the New York Yankees organization. He has always put up good numbers at the minor league level but it never translated to the major league level in New York hitting only .209 in 48 career games. At AAA Scranton Wilkes/Barre in 2023 he hit .284 with 28 homers. The Guardians are hoping a change of scenery and a chance to play consistently at the major league level will help Florial flourish.



Left field:


Left field will be occupied by Gold Glover and lead-off hitter Steven Kwan who has hit .282 in his first two seasons in the big leagues. Kwan is a pure hitter who has struck out only 135 times in 1,356 major league plate appearances while playing a stellar left field.



Right field:


Right field looks to be a potential platoon situation. Will Brennan should garner quite a bit of playing time especially against right handed pitching. He has hit .274 in 149 big league games with the Guardians. Brennan is solid defender and more contact than power at the plate. Splitting time with Brennan will most likely be veteran Ramon Laureano who was acquired off waivers from the Oakland A's last season. Hit .224 overall with Cleveland last season but hit .270 against left handed pitching making him a prime platoon candidate with the left handed hitting Brennan.



Designated hitter:


The DH spot will most likely be filled by Rule 5 draft pick Deyvison De Los Santos who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks. De Los Santos must remain on the Guardians active roster or be offered back to Arizona. He has big time power potential but has not had an at bat higher than the AA level. In 2023 with AA Amarillo he hit .254 with 20 homers and 61 RBI's in 113 games. He has hit 50 homers in 301 minor league games.


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