Guardians New Year 2024 Outlook – Things to Ponder

December 30, 2023

Andy Billman

1 – Who’s in the outfield?

No doubt Steven Kwan will be starting in left field, but after that, there are many questions on who will be where for the Guards.  New manager Stephen Vogt will have options including Myles Straw, Will Brennan, and Ramon Laureano, who was the main rotation with Kwan in the outfield last season.  It is hard to see these three retaking the outfield for most of 2024.  Out of this group, I can see Laureano getting some starts in right field, along with Straw at center as a defensive replacement late in games.  Spring training will be significant for all three, especially Brennan, who has yet to lock down a starting role and feels like the odd man out.  

Then there’s a group of potentials starting with Estevan Florial (newly acquired from the Yankees), Jhonkensy Noel, Johnathan Rodriguez, and George Valera. Heading into 2023, my money would have been on Valera, but with his injuries, it feels like he has slipped into this group of unknowns. One or two from this group will make the final roster, and currently, it is hard to guess who’s the favorite.

2 – Will Bieber be on the roster opening day?

This question is on the path to being answered as a yes. Shane Bieber will be on the starting roster on opening day for the Guardians unless a team gets desperate (insert Yankees) and overpays for Bieber.  Overpaying wouldn’t surprise me, especially with a team like the Yankees, who are already all in and need more pitching.  

For now, Bieber is in Cleveland and on the last year of his contract with no signs of returning.  My prediction is Bieber will be traded at some point.

3 – Can JRAM and Josh Naylor carry the guardians along with the young starting pitching?

If Vogt has one huge advantage coming into his first season in Cleveland, he knows that his lead-off hitter is Kwan, with Jose Ramirez batting third and Josh Naylor batting clean up.  That is huge, not having to juggle those three critical spots in the lineup and, more than likely, Andres Gimenez batting second. 

The starting rotation currently with Bieber and Triston McKenzie, along with the young starters of Tanner Bibee, Logan Allen, and Gavon Williams, looks very strong, and add that they have a true sixth man in Xzavion Curry, the Guardians have a strong group.

The starting pitching with hitting leadership of JRAM and Naylor gives the Guardians a chance for a run if they can stay healthy.  Will it be enough is another question. In theory, everybody should improve, but there’s a lot of youth being counted on to do big things, which usually equates to struggles at points throughout the season.

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