Thursday, February 29, 2024
HomeBaseballCubs, Mariners, Pirates In Josh Naylor

Cubs, Mariners, Pirates In Josh Naylor


Guardians first baseman Josh Naylor drew commerce curiosity from the Cubs, Mariners, and Pirates in the course of the Winter Conferences, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Seller stories.  There is no such thing as a indication that the Guards have been in critical talks a couple of deal, and as Hoynes notes, “for an offensively challenged membership, it appears unusual that they’d think about buying and selling [Naylor].  However…it by no means hurts to pay attention.”

The 26-year-old Naylor hit .308/.354/.489 with 17 homers over 495 plate appearances final season, marking his second straight yr of high quality manufacturing.  The primary baseman has a 124 wRC+ in 993 PA since Opening Day 2022, and this previous season noticed Naylor become extra of a well-rounded hitter than only a energy bat.  Naylor’s common and OBP elevated significantly from 2022, and Naylor additionally in the reduction of on his strikeouts with out shedding any of his energy.  Whereas he doesn’t stroll a lot, that strategy isn’t uncommon for a Cleveland staff that prioritizes contact above all.

It appears fairly attainable that Naylor hasn’t but reached his ceiling, on condition that his early-career growth was stunted by each the pandemic-shortened 2020 season after which a nasty fractured ankle that minimize quick his 2021 season and price him a little bit of time at the beginning of the 2022 marketing campaign.  Naylor additionally missed a couple of month as a result of an indirect pressure in 2023, and nonetheless generated constructive numbers regardless of a really gradual begin over the season’s first six weeks.

Naylor’s 128 wRC+ really outpaced Jose Ramirez’s 123 mark for tops amongst all Guardians regulars, and Josh’s youthful brother Bo Naylor additionally delivered a 124 wRC+ within the smaller pattern measurement of 230 PA.  These have been among the many few highlights in an general dismal yr on the plate for the remainder of Cleveland’s roster, as the dearth of hitting and a number of accidents within the rotation left the Guardians with a mediocre 76-86 report in Terry Francona’s remaining season as supervisor.

As Hoynes famous, shifting Naylor would appear counterintuitive for a Guardians staff that’s seemingly trying to improve the lineup.  Nevertheless, as is usually the case with the Guards’ strikes, there’s a monetary component at play.  Naylor is projected to earn $7.2MM within the second of three arbitration years, and he’s eligible to hit free company after the 2025 marketing campaign.  Whereas Ramirez is a notable exception, the Guardians typically doesn’t attempt to retain star expertise except they’re locked as much as extensions earlier of their careers, so Naylor might doubtlessly be a part of a protracted listing of notable Cleveland gamers who have been handled at the very least one yr remaining of staff management.

Simply this offseason, it’s broadly anticipated that the Guardians will deal Shane Bieber for the reason that former Cy Younger Award winner can be a free agent within the 2024-25 offseason.  Cleveland has already moved Cal Quantrill to the Rockies in a wage dump kind of commerce, and this winter particularly carries further monetary uncertainty for the small-market Guardians for the reason that Diamond Sports activities Group’s chapter proceedings might see the staff lose their TV deal.  Since their payroll isn’t anticipated to go up, that leaves the entrance workplace with some tough selections to make in determining the way to enhance the roster as a complete.

With this in thoughts, Naylor turns into a really fascinating attainable commerce chip in an offseason market skinny on large bats, notably in free company.  Any variety of groups would definitely have curiosity in a 26-year-old who won’t have hit his offensive peak but, and a brand new membership would have two years to maybe ink Naylor to an extension.

Based mostly on what Cleveland often seeks out in such trades of established expertise, the Guardians might attempt to acquire an MLB-ready who will help the staff in 2024, in addition to a longer-term prospect or two.  Turning to the golf equipment in Hoynes’ report, the highly-ranked farm techniques of the Pirates and Cubs might actually have the belongings to suit what would certainly be a giant asking worth from the Guardians.

Buying Naylor would immediately fill the Cubs’ wants at first base, and supply a pleasant pivot after Chicago missed out on Shohei Ohtani.  Cubs GM Carter Hawkins may be very aware of Naylor, as Hawkins beforehand labored in Cleveland’s entrance workplace earlier than heading to Wrigleyville following the 2021 season.  As a lot as Jed Hoyer’s entrance workplace has been hesitant about dealing from its stash of younger expertise, two years of comparatively cheap management over Naylor is a tempting proposition, and it could permit the Cubs to then dedicate further {dollars} to free company.

There may be some irony within the Pirates trying to land a participant from one other staff trying to minimize prices, given Pittsburgh’s lengthy historical past of low payrolls.  Nevertheless, the Bucs have a transparent want at first base, and buying Naylor would even be one other main signal that the staff is making ready to lastly return to rivalry.  That push may even come as early as 2024, given the NL Central’s state of flux.

The Mariners are on the lookout for a specific type of offensive improve, as Naylor would match Seattle’s prioritization of fine contact hitters.  The M’s have already parted methods with Teoscar Hernandez, Eugenio Suarez, and Jarred Kelenic of their pursuit of extra contact, and buying Naylor might additionally give the Mariners cowl to commerce present first baseman Ty France.

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