The Cleveland Guardians reached agreements with all seven of their arbitration-eligible players on Friday:
- Cal Quantrill: $5.55 million (source)
- Josh Naylor: $3.35 million (source)
- Zach Plesac: $2.95 million (source)
- Aaron Civale: $2.6 million (source)
- Shane Bieber: $10.01 million (source)
- Amed Rosario: $7.8 million (source)
- James Karinchak: $1.5 million (source)
When these deals become official, it will mean the Guards have $21.2 million dedicated to the starting rotation via arbitration. Triston McKenzie will be arbitration-eligible starting next season.
This was Zach Plesac’s first year of arbitration eligibility after pitching four full seasons with the Guardians. Last year, he started 24 games with a 4.31 ERA, 10.9 K-BB%, and was worth 0.9 fWAR. While certainly still an effective back-end pitcher, he’s a long way away from the 3.81 ERA he posted in his rookie year and 2.28 ERA in the abbreviated 2020 season. It’s not the numbers that hurt Plesac, though, but what seems to happen between pitches.
First, he and former teammate Mike Clevinger broke COVID protocol while in Chicago in Aug. 2020 — he proceeded to blame the media in a video recorded while he was driving. Then, in 2021, he injured his thumb while “aggressively” removing his shirt in the locker room following a rough outing against the Twins. Finally, in August of last season, he broke his hand when he punched the mound in frustration. He only pitched 4.2 innings down the stretch and one inning in the playoffs.
Aaron Civale also had a down year last season, with a 4.92 ERA in 97.0 innings. He reached a career-high 24.1% strikeout rate, but gave up far too many hard hits and was unable to hold runners on base — his left-on-base percentage (62.5%) was the second worst among pitchers with at least 90 innings pitched.
While Civale also missed time due to injuries, his were the normal baseball variety. His three trips to the injured list limited him to just 20 starts and his lone postseason start was a disastrous outing in Game 5 of the ALDS.
Cal Quantrill, on the other hand, enjoyed a full healthy season and emerged as an excellent mid-rotation piece for the Guardians in 2022. He finished with a 3.38 ERA and a career-best 2.2 fWAR. He didn’t suddenly turn into a strikeout machine or anything, but he found a groove as a groundball specialist who limited hard contact and didn’t walk a ton of batters.
While today was the deadline to exchange figures for arbitration, players and teams can still come to an agreement before the messy arbitration hearings begin to take place next month. Luckily for the Guardians, James Karinchak’s late-night deal on Friday ensured that they will not have any cases this year.