It feels like the 2023 MLB campaign only started yesterday, but we're already nearing the final month of the regular season. While other clubs are making a playoff push, the Cleveland Guardians are left playing meaningless baseball after doing nothing to improve the roster at the trade deadline.
Another disappointing season means some Guardians fans are already looking forward to potential offseason moves. After all, dreaming of a better future is a lot easier (and less anger-inducing) than focusing on the franchise's current situation.
Assuming that general manager Mike Chernoff is more active in the winter than he was ahead of the trade deadline, it isn't farfetched to imagine Cleveland making the playoffs next fall.
Heck, if Chernoff truly strikes big in free agency, even competing for next year's World Series is an achievable goal.
Check out these three free-agent signings that would help push the Guardians to World Series contender status in 2024.
3 Guardians Free Agent Targets
1. James Paxton, LHP
When healthy, Cleveland has one of the best starting rotations in the majors.
The problem is that the group wasn't in good health this season as both Triston McKenzie and Shane Bieber missed serious time. It also doesn't help that Cal Quantrill — who also spent a lot of time with team doctors — is in the midst of the worst season of his career (6.45 ERA in 13 starts).
Logically, Chernoff should've added a starting arm before the deadline, but he didn't. Assuming that the Guardians want some pitching insurance next year and lose Noah Syndergaard to free agency, adding James Paxton isn't a bad idea at all.
After playing just six games between 2020 and 2022, Paxton has mostly put his injury woes in the rearview. The 34-year-old has started in nearly three times as many games with the Boston Red Sox (17) this year as he did in the previous three seasons combined, going 7-4 with a 3.79 ERA and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
Paxton being a left-handed pitcher is also a plus since, outside of Logan Allen, Cleveland's rotation is loaded with righties. Considering how the Guardians are a bottom-10 team when it comes to whiffs per 9 (8.34, No. 25) and K/BB ratio (2.14, No. 21), Paxton could give them a boost.
The Canadian hurler wouldn't come in and be the ace, but he'd still be a solid mid-rotation arm on a championship-caliber team.