Rumors had the Indians linked to many of the big names as the deadline inched closer. Would Cleveland grab the ageless Carlos Beltran? Jay Bruce? Steve Pearce? Yasiel Puig?
Each player had in some way or another been teased as a potential pickup. However, when the Indians finally made their trade, none of the aforementioned names were involved. Instead, the team acquired Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Brandon Guyer, a move met with a resounding “…who?”
Yes, it’s safe to say nobody had Guyer’s name near the top of their wish lists. The pickup was hardly met with the kind of fanfare Miller or (for a few hours at least) Jonathan Lucroy received. That said, just because the move was underwhelming doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad.
I’m not going to go on a full-scale sell of why Guyer is a better addition than any of the other top targets the Tribe was going after. I, too, wanted Cleveland to make a major offensive pickup, and it’s tough to see the former Ray as being exactly what the team needed.
After letting the dust settle, though, there are benefits which come with adding Guyer to the fold.
For one, he’s proven to be a very reliable bat when facing left-handed pitching. His slash line against righties (.196/.277/.324) is…well, it’s bad. That said, he’s hitting .344/.488/.594 against left-handers, which is significantly better.
You could argue that acquiring someone who only hits well against southpaws is a weird trade, but the Indians didn’t make this move to find an everyday player.
The acquisition of Guyer allows for a right field platoon with Lonnie Chisenhall. It’s not a huge boost in outfield talent, but it adds depth and a reliable – albeit situational – bat.
This, along with the ensuing DFA of Juan Uribe, can permanently move Jose Ramirez to third base.
While he held his own in the outfield, Ramirez is far better utilized as an infielder. He’s also in the middle of his best season at the plate, so any move which increases his playing time is a good one.
The other benefit to picking up Guyer is how little it cost Cleveland.
After watching two top prospects get dealt in the Miller trade, there was growing concern the Indians might start depleting their farm system a bit if they made another big deal before the deadline. The players the Tribe had to part with – Nathan Lukes and Jhonleider Salinas – aren’t anyone fans are going to be upset about. The Indians didn’t sit on their hands, but they also didn’t mortgage the entire farm to try and win now.
No, Guyer isn’t the everyday upgrade to Cleveland’s offense. That said, the team didn’t necessarily need an everyday addition in the first place, and any they would’ve made wasn’t going to come without complications.
At the end of the day, Guyer is a nice pickup whose only real crime is not being the guy everybody wanted the Indians to get. Just because he isn’t a big name doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not a decent addition to the team.