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Franmil Reyes designated for assignment in flurry of Guardians roster moves

What a short, strange trip it’s been

Cleveland Guardians v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Franmil Reyes may be on his way out of Cleveland after the team designated him for assignment Saturday afternoon. “Franmil Reyes, DFA’d” is one of those things that seemed like a possibility with his struggles this season, but it’s still surreal to see actually happen.

Purely roster-wise, Reyes is being DFA’d to make room for Jake Jewell, a 29-year-old reliever the Guardians signed to a minor-league deal in the offseason. More than that, though, Reyes being DFA’d (and let’s be honest, probably claimed somewhere soon) is the end of a strange chapter of Guardians baseball over the last two years.

Reyes was acquired at the 2019 trade deadline when the Padres decided to hop into the Yasiel Puig/Trevor Bauer trade between Cleveland and Cincinnati. The Guardians, only giving up Bauer, came away from that deal with Reyes, Logan Allen, Victor Nova, Yasiel Puig, and Scott Moss. Reyes, Allen, and Puig all played in Cleveland at one point or another, but no one involved in the trade is with the organization three years later.

For two and a half years, Reyes made the trade look like a good one in the Guardians’ favor. He put up a .275/.344/.450 slash in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and smashed 30 home runs with a .254/.324/.522 in 115 games last season. His measurements on Baseball Savant made the success look sustainable, maybe even with room for growth. Sure, he whiffed a lot, but he still made solid contact when he did make contact. The 32% strikeout rate he carried last year seemed workable with a 9.2% walk rate and a home run every four games.

This year, however, his offense absolutely cratered as he slashed .213/.254/.350 with nine home runs in 44 games. Between injuries, minor-league stints, and just trying to figure things out, his power left him and he was striking out more. What was once a blemish on an otherwise shiny apple was suddenly the whole apple. Reyes couldn’t hit anything but fastballs, opposing pitchers knew it, and you didn’t need to be a Baseball Doctor to see that he had no idea what was coming every at-bat.

Terry Pluto wrote as recently as last month that the Guards might be looking to deal Reyes before the Aug. 2 trade deadline, citing his lack of desire to get “into better shape to play the outfield.” At the time, Reyes was finally starting to hit again, so maybe a trade would work out. He might get a new start, the Guardians would get a player back, and everyone could move on. Unfortunately, he bottomed out again, and from July 10 through Aug. 1 — what will probably be his last game as a Guardian — he went 13-64 with 19 strikeouts, two walks, and a lone home run.

At 27 years old and still with enough power to hit 30-plus home runs, Reyes seems like the ideal candidate to go somewhere else and succeed with a change of scenery. But right now, it didn’t look like it was going to work out in Cleveland.

In addition to Reyes being DFA’d, the Guardians optioned Hunter Gaddis, who was shelled in his MLB debut against the Astros last night. Jewell replaced him on the 26-man roster, presumably to hold down the fort in the bullpen until Aaron Civale can return from his injured list stint. Cleveland also released first baseman Bobby Bradley, who immediately becomes a free agent.