As the hardware continues to pile up for the Cleveland Guardians, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti has been named the MLB Executive of the Year.
This is Antonetti’s first time winning Executive of the Year, an award that has been around since the end of the 2018 season. Previous winners include Billy Beane, Erik Neander, Andrew Friedman, and Farhan Zaidi.
It’s a well-deserved honor for Antonetti, who put together a 92-70 team full of home-grown players and prospects acquired via trades who grew up with the organization. Every player on the 2022 AL Central Champion Guardians roster was either drafted by the organization or acquired during or after the 2020 season. Josh Naylor, Austin Hedges, Cal Quantrill, Gabriel Arias, and Owen Miller were all acquired in the Mike Clevinger trade two years ago and played pivotal roles in the Guardians’ surprising run to the playoffs.
Antonetti winning the award also seems like definitive proof that Executive of the Year is a reflection of a team’s overall composition as a result of an executive, more than whatever additions an executive made in that particular year. Because, while Antonetti absolutely deserves the award for what he has built over the last half-decade in Cleveland, I don’t think he won because he signed Luke Maile in March.
While technically not additions, Antonetti’s front office did also sign Myles Straw, Emmanuel Clase, and José Ramírez to very affordable extensions — which I’m sure went into his winning this award. Clase and Ramírez already look like slam-dunk deals, and Straw is now a Gold Glove winner with time to get his bat back on track. I also think that knowing it was time to move on Franmil Reyes, to bite the bullet and DFA him, was a bold and ultimately correct decision by the front office.
Whether you believe the Guardians’ lack of additions at the trade deadline was some kind of clairvoyant-like glimpse into the future, or playing it safe and panning out to perfection, it’s clear that this season would not have happened without what Antonetti and his front office built. With only two outgoing free agents, a minuscule payroll, and their superstar locked up on a team-friendly deal through 2028, the Guards are set for the future with only the sky as the limit. Now go out and reach for that limit.