The Cleveland Guardians were hoping to poach Jose Abreu from the division rival Chicago White Sox in free agency, but the Houston Astros swooped in and signed him instead.
Now, the Guardians must consider other options to fill their hole at designated hitter, where an upgrade is desperately needed if Cleveland wants to return to the playoffs in 2023. Here are three free agents the Guardians should consider after missing out on Jose Abreu.
Cleveland Guardians Free Agency
3. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
The Guardians were the youngest team in baseball last year, so they could stand to benefit from some veteran leadership. That makes Gurriel a strong fit, as the 38-year-old is coming off his fourth World Series appearance and second championship with the Astros. Now that he's been displaced by Abreu, Gurriel seems like a good bet to sign elsewhere. He's also coming off a disappointing season by his standards, which should lower his price tag and make him more affordable for a small-market team like Cleveland.
2. Trey Mancini, DH
Cleveland was woefully short on power in 2022, ranking second-to-last in the American League in home runs as only three players hit more than 11. Mancini would add some much-needed thump to the Guardians' lineup after cracking at least 18 long balls in all five of his full seasons. The right-handed slugger is still relatively young at age 30 and is used to playing on youthful teams in Baltimore, so he'd likely be a good addition to the clubhouse. He also got a taste of the postseason with the Astros last year and is probably looking to sign with a contender.
1. Michael Brantley, OF/DH
Another free-agent Astro, Brantley is similar to Gurriel in that he could provide some much-needed veteran leadership for the Guardians' budding roster. Brantley also has strong ties to Cleveland after spending the first 10 seasons of his career there from 2009-2018, making three All-Star teams and establishing himself as a fan favorite. The 35-year-old has had trouble staying on the field lately but is still productive when healthy, as evidenced by last year's .785 OPS in 64 games. If Brantley has a desire to return to his roots and play for Terry Francona again, this reunion could be a perfect match.