Cleveland Indians Spring Training is well underway, here’s the status of SS.
Cleveland Indians spring training 2021 means new faces, as the organization attempts to replace an all-time fan favorite in Francisco Lindor.
The most logical candidates to replace Lindor are the players brought in from the deal that sent the four-time All-Star to New York. That means either Amed Rosario or Andres Gimenez will likely be the regular, every-day player at the position.
Not only will the Indians miss Lindor at the dish, but his defense will be missed as well. While Lindor wasn’t his most productive at the plate in 2020, he still ranked as the best defensive shortstop in the game, according to Fangraphs.
Rosario and Gimenez didn’t log as many innings at the position in 2020. Rosario stated the 60-game campaign and short, but eventually lost the gig to Gimenez. This study from Baseball Savant shows that both were decent at the position.
If you’re looking for an old fashioned way of telling if a player plays good defense, Rosario had 33 errors in two full seasons at short between from 2018-2019. For comparison’s sake, Lindor had 20 in about the same number of games.
So, who will be start? Spring Training games will likely tell us. Gimenez is only 22. If he has a subpar spring, it won’t be a surprise to see the Tribe ship him to Columbus and bring him back up when the weather warms in Cleveland.
Rosario is a former top-5 prospect in the game. He made his debut at the age of 21, but didn’t deliver on his promise. He posted a +wRC of 75 and 85 in 2017 and 2018, respectively. I’m not a fan of using these stats because they can put a reader to sleep, but it’s a number that sums up his entire performance at the plate. A +wRC of 100 is considered average. Rosario posted a +wRC of 99 in 2019, hinting that he might be putting things together.
That number dipped back down to 75 last season, and considering he was long mentioned in trade rumors tied to the Tribe, the Mets seemed more than happy to move on.
Gimenez’s entire major-league resume consisted of 132 plate appearances, but a +wRC of 104 looks better than 75.
So, to answer the question…Gimenez is the future of the position for the next four years and he’s ready to play now. The Indians talk about being competitive, and right now, he gives them the best shot to win.
Cleveland Indians depth
Whomever doesn’t win the starting job will offer depth, while Yu Chang is someone who can play both second and short. Ernie Clement, competing for a utility spot, is a contact hitter more than capable of playing middle infield.
Shortstop is an important position and the importance Cleveland places on the position is evident from the structure of their minor-league system.
Tyler Freeman is the No. 2 ranked prospect in the organization, per MLB pipeline. The 2017 second-round pick will likely start the season at Columbus–alas things could change depending on Gimenez. Writers who cover the minor leagues have long stated Freeman’s position might switch to second base when he hits the majors. We’ll see, as he’s logged considerably more innings at short than second base.
Gabriel Arias was the top prospect acquired form the Padres in the Mike Clevinger trade. He may boast the most potential out of anyone in the system because it’s believed he could one day be a 25-home-run-a-year player. Look for him to start at Double-A Akron, unless the Tribe wants to send him back to High A after losing the 2020 season.