Unless you’re into bitter labor wars that only disappoint fans, there isn’t a lot to report on concerning MLB and the Cleveland Guardians.
Until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, a freeze on player movement prohibits fans from building any offseason hope. Transaction season is one of the highlights of a fan’s season, and MLB and the MLBPAA have unsurprising disappointed their paying customers.
The two sides, I think, will reach an agreement at some point. If they do, one writer had the Guards making a play for St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar.
Forbes’ Bernie Pleskoff, who has previously worked as an MLB scout, is high on the 24-year-old left-handed, corner outfielder
Nootbaar isn’t an uber prospect–He signed for $150,000 coming out of USC and he’s hit .261/.347/.710 with just 15 homers in parts of three seasons working his way through the Cardinals’ farm system.
St. Louis thought enough to promote him last season, though, and he appeared in 58 games with the Cards in 2021. You wouldn’t take a second look at his stats, as he hit .239 (.739 OPS) with five homers and 15 RBIs, producing a 0.7 WAR.
Why Nootbaar for the Cleveland Guardians?
So, why is the writer so high on what looks to be a guy with plus defensive skills, but a mediocre bat? Pleskoff still believes his bat has great potential.
"“It is Nootbaar’s bat that most intrigues this writer. It is his ability to make consistent hard contact with a measured swing that are most intriguing. And to this scout, he has tremendous upside as a hitter. There is more power waiting to be released. His slight leg kick trigger puts his swing in motion from the left side of the plate.”"
Pleskoff acknowledged Cleveland’s homegrown talents such as George Valera, Richie Palacios and Nolan Jones, but advocated for the Guards to add Nootbaar, in addition to what’s already in the stockpile.
For what it’s worth, Valera is still about a season away, but Jones should see the majors in 2022, as should Palacios.
Even so, Nootbaar can handle the glove, which you know is important to Terry Francona.
Pleskoff makes some interesting points, and if the Guardians could get Nootbaar without giving up too much, then great. He’d be a great defensive add to play along side Myles Straw in center.
The organization would have to exercise patience with his bat, and if you’re buying what Pleskoff writes, it’d be a wait well worth it.