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UPDATED: Guardians DFA Mike Zunino, call up Touki Toussaint in flurry of pregame moves

Also, Triston McKenzie was a scratch tonight with elbow discomfort

St. Louis Cardinals v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images


Original article as follows:

The short, but also too long, Mike Zunino era in Cleveland is officially over. The Guardians designated the catcher for assignment prior to Friday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In addition to Zunino being DFA’d, the Guardians also optioned Cody Morris to Triple-A and called up Touki Toussaint to start for Triston McKenzie, who has been scratched from his scheduled start with elbow discomfort.

Also, in one weird, final twist, the Guards will play tonight down one position player, per Zack Meisel. Yes, they designated Zunino for assignment without having anyone in proximity to take his place.

That’s a lot to take in at once, but the short of it is that the path is clear for Bo Naylor to be promoted to the Guardians sooner rather than later. That isn’t happening right now, though, and as of this writing, there has not been any official word on if it will. Currently, Naylor is slated to start for the Columbus Clippers at designated hitter in a game that starts at 8:05 p.m. ET. The Guardians return to Cleveland for a homestand on Tuesday, which would be a pretty ideal situation to have him make his season debut.

Naylor has raked so far in Triple-A with 13 home runs and a .253/.393/.498 slash in 270 plate appearances. In contrast, Zunino slashed just .177/.271/.306 with three home runs in his 42 games with the Guardians after signing a $6 million deal in the offseason. There is no such thing as a bad one-year deal but this was about as close as one can get.

The other side of this potentially exciting development is the heart-stopping news that McKenzie is missing another start after making just two since coming off the injured list. He struck out 10 batters in his 2023 debut on June 4 but struggled against the Astros six days later. The important thing now is seeing if he is healthy — hopefully this is a minor thing, but elbows and pitchers are no joke.

Toussaint, who signed a minor-league deal in the offseason, will get the spot start in place of McKenzie. The 26-year-old last appeared in a game on Sept. 4 for the Angels, where he struck out two batters over 1.2 innings.