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Early returns on the Brandon Guyer trade are looking pretty good

You can stay. I like you.

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Indians Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images

When the Cleveland Indians made a last-minute deal to acquire Brandon Guyer from the Tampa Bay Rays before the trade deadline, many fans were left confused and unjustly angry. Throughout the day, the Indians were being linked to hitters like Carlos Beltran, who would have been a much bigger name, arguably a better bat, but would have been much more expensive and would have provided almost no defensive value.

Instead of going for Beltran, the Indians opted for a smaller trade. And so far it’s looking like the right decision. We have praised this trade several times on Let’s Go Tribe — I loved it the moment it happened, and Merritt Rohlfing posted an excellent breakdown of how Guyer could impact the Indians as a whole, even as “just” a platoon bat.

Guyer has played in 11 games for the Indians, mostly against left-handers, and in 30 plate appearances he is slashing .462/.533/.654 for a wRC+ of 227. That’s kind of pretty good. Obviously this is a very small sample size and he is not going to finish out his days as the best to ever play the sport (or with a .500 BABIP), but the early results are outstanding.

Not so fast, Mr. Platoon man

Until last night, Guyer was starting exclusively against left-handed pitchers, which is about what we expected when the trade was made. The 30-year-old veteran has a pretty clear platoon split over his x-year career — a .237/.307/.342 split in 459 plate appearances against righties, and a .287/.387/.471 split in 418 plate appearances against southpaws.

But Terry Francona opted to start Guyer against the right-handed Chicago White Sox starter Anthony Ranaudo and he was... still great. Granted, Anthony Ranaudo is not exactly the type of pitcher Guyer will be facing in Game 7 of the World Series, but he did finished the game 3-for-4 against him (ironically going 0-for-1 against a lefty reliever), including a crucial fifth-inning liner to right field that scored Jose Ramirez and Tyler Naquin to give the Indians a two-run lead.

Is Guyer the answer to the Abraham Almonte problem?

Brandon Guyer’s spot on the post-season Indians was always clear: He would be in there to dominate left-handed batters while we keep pretending that Lonnie can’t hit lefties. But now he may have a different role.

By starting Guyer last night against a right-handed pitcher, Terry Francona can begin to prepare for a playoff future without Abraham Almonte. There are just not many options on the waiver wire for the Indians to trade for, so they are going to have look internally. The most obvious answer would be putting Guyer every day in left field, even with his negative platoon splits.

Alternatively, the Indians could add Yandy Diaz to the expanded roster prior to September 1 and still have him eligible for the postseason roster. As much as I like Diaz, and his future on the team, throwing a rookie into the fire of a playoff race may not be Terry Francona’s first choice, though, especially if Guyer proves he can hit well against righties for a couple months.

And it’s not like Guyer is absolutely terrible against left-handed pitchers to begin with. His aforementioned .237/.307/.342 slash against them is about what we could expect out of Abraham Almonte on any given night, anyway.

It’s too early to fully evaluate the trade, but he already looks like a steal

Looking back in five years, which is about the appropriate time to fully evaluate a trade that involves prospects, who knows what we will think of this trade. But when we look back in November at who did what at the deadline, you can bet Brandon Guyer’s name will come up.

The Indians only gave up Nathan Lukes, a 22-year-old outfielder who has struggled to adjust in High-A and Jhonleider Salinas, a 20-year-old strikeout pitcher currently in the rookie league. They gave up absolutely nothing that should impact their window to win, no matter how good they turn out, and in return they got a player who could greatly impact their odds in the playoffs.

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So, to sum up my early feelings on this trade: