Breaking News
More () »

3 things to look forward to for the Cleveland Guardians once the MLB lockout ends

While the MLB season appears to be on hold, it's never too early to look ahead to some baseball.

CLEVELAND — The Major League Baseball season is certainly in jeopardy of happening this year as the owners and MLB Players Union are currently engaging in trying to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. Normally, by this time of the year, eyes are focused on the Cactus League out in Arizona and the Grapefruit League in Florida. 

Eventually, the lockout will come to an end and baseball will return. There’s no telling if that happens this week, this month, or even this year, but it will happen. 

Here are three things to look forward to from the Cleveland Guardians whenever baseball resumes in Cleveland and across the country:

Jose Ramírez extension talks

The Guardians as a franchise have had a difficult task in trying to retain their own best players for as long as many can remember. The team has had to trade some of its best talent due to financial concerns. Francisco Lindor, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Edwin Encarnacion, and Mike Clevinger are a few names that come to mind of talented players the organization has been forced to trade away. The team has also seen homegrown talents such as Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana walk in free agency for deals that Cleveland couldn’t afford at the time. 

Could Jose Ramírez be the next name to join one of those lists? Ramírez has two more seasons of team control remaining thanks to a very team-friendly contract extension he signed early on in his career. According to Spotrac, Ramírez is set to make just $12 million this season -- should it happen -- and has a team option for $14 million next season, which the Guardians will certainly pick up, barring something unforeseen. 

Ramírez has severely outplayed his current deal to the tune of four top-six MVP finishes, including second-place in 2020. Since 2017, when Ramírez’s new deal kicked in, he’s third in all of baseball with a wins above replacement (WAR) mark of 28 according to FanGraphs, trailing only Mike Trout of the Angels and Mookie Betts of the Dodgers. 

Whether or not the Guardians can work something out with Ramírez to remain in Cleveland beyond 2023 will be one of the biggest questions that the organization faces when business can resume. According to various reports, there is interest on both sides in something getting done to keep Ramírez in town long term. The organization has never had a player on a $100 million contract. It’s a fair thought that Ramírez will either be the first one in franchise history, or he’ll be playing his baseball for another team before August of 2023. 

The first signing of the offseason

The lockout is now a few months old, but the offseason did have a bit of life prior to things shutting down in early December. 

The Guardians, however, were not one of the teams active before the lockout.

The team has quite a few holes to fill on its roster, including help in the outfield and potentially first base as well. While it likely won’t be a big money free agent, the Guardians will at some point sign somebody to a major league contract. 

It will be curious how long it takes from the time business opens up before the Guardians make their first real transaction of the offseason. 

An update on Terry Francona

Last season, the Guardians didn’t have their manager, Terry Francona, for much of the second half of the season. He was forced to step aside while dealing with a number of different health issues. Prior to that, Francona managed just 14 games during the 2020 pandemic-shortened season. 

As of late, there has been no update on Francona’s health, which should be taken as good news considering he is expected to be back at the helm this season for the Guardians. 

Francona enters this season as the longest-tenured manager in Major League Baseball, as he’s been in Cleveland since the 2013 season. He currently sits with 753 wins as manager of the franchise, but is counted with the wins following his departure due to health issues last season. If Francona were not to return to the dugout, those wins would not be counted. This year he is slated to become the first manager in franchise history to manage the team for 10 seasons, passing Lou Boudreau and Mike Hargrove for most in team history.

Before You Leave, Check This Out