It's safe to say that the 2023 MLB season didn't unfold like the Cleveland Guardians planned. After a 92-win campaign last year, the Guardians missed the playoffs with a 76-86 effort. Now, first-time manager Stephen Vogt is tasked with turning the ship around in 2024.
If Vogt is to be successful in his debut season, general manager Mike Chernoff must give him all the tools to do so. That includes replacing any underperforming players with individuals who are ready to contribute.
The good news is that the free agent market is loaded with options to help improve Cleveland's roster.
Keeping that in mind, here are three Guardians who must be replaced by free agents this winter.
3 Guardians Who Must Be Replaced by Free Agents
1. Cam Gallagher (and Mike Zunino)
There's no question that Bo Naylor is the Guardians' catcher of the present and future. The 23-year-old Canadian is a game-changer whenever he's in the lineup, but the problem is that he couldn't have a bigger impact due to his being limited to 67 games.
It wasn't hard to feel Naylor's absence. Cleveland owned a 49.3% win-loss percentage when he was in the lineup compared to 45.2% without him. On top of that, his being sidelined meant Guardians fans saw more of Cam Gallagher and Mike Zunino than they wanted to.
The veteran duo just didn't have the same plate presence as Naylor. They combined for three home runs and 11 RBIs with 107 strikeouts across 267 at-bats. On top of that, Gallagher slashed a putrid .126/.154/.168 while Zunino wasn't much better at .177/.271/.306.
Even rookie utility player David Fry offered the Guardians more offense on the handful of occasions he suited up as the catcher.
I don't think the Guardians need a big-name backstop behind Naylor, but they do someone who can contribute to a winning culture both in terms of offense and also calling games behind the plate. Even if Naylor plays even more as a sophomore, extra (and reliable) insurance never hurt anyone.