Rumors of Franmil Reyes being optioned started swirling yesterday when he was seen cleaning out his locker following the Guardians’ win over the Diamondbacks, and now it appears to be official. According to Al Pawlowski, the Guardians have made the move to option Franmil Reyes to Triple-A and activate Oscar Gonzalez off the 10-day injured list.
Gonzalez was listed in the lineup earlier today, but the move hadn’t been official. Curiously, he’s starting against a right-handed pitcher while lefty outfielders Nolan Jones and Will Benson sit on the bench. Make of that whatever you want, but neither of them seem like they are being traded in the next hour.
Prior to an abdominal strain that has sidelined him since June 29, Gonzalez was one of many rookie sensations on the Guardians. He slashed .285/.315/.431 through 130 plate appearances and the strikeout issues that plagued his minor-league career weren’t overwhelming at the major-league level — yet. But now, with a month of tape on him and plenty of time to find the holes in his swing, it’ll be up to him to get back to the early success that earned him consistent playing time throughout the month of June. He only had three hits in his final 28 plate appearances prior to the injury, so clearly pitchers were already onto something.
For Reyes, this is an opportunity — maybe his last with the Guardians — to correct whatever in the world has happened to his swing this year. Through injuries and blatant ineffectiveness, his wRC+ dropped from 125 last year to just 69 in 70 games this season. He’s hit nine home runs and his slugging percentage sits at a lowly .350, while his strikeout rate eclipses 37%. His arms turned to wet pool noodles at the mere sight of anything not a dead-center fastball.
Going down to Triple-A and beating on hapless under-24 pitchers who haven’t broken into the majors won’t do him any good without a new approach. Surely he knows (and surely the Guardians know), that racking up dingers in the bandbox that is the Columbus Clippers home stadium without fundamental changes won’t do him any good. This season he ranks in the bottom 10th percentile for walk rate, strikeout rate, whiff rate, expected wOBA, and expected batting average. Something has to change, or he’s not going to last long.
But forget all that for now. I’m just excited the SpongeBob walk-up song is back.