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Guardians Add Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Matt Moore via the waiver wire

This seemingly indicates that the Guardians see a division title as within reach

Los Angeles Angels v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Guardians have added right-handed starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, right-handed reliever Reynaldo Lopez on waivers from the Los Angeles Angels, and Matt Moore, left-handed reliever. All three players will become free agents at the end of the 2023 season.

Giolito has had his worst professional season since 2018 in 2023 with the White Sox and the Angels, with a 4.45 ERA, a 4.94 FIP and a 4.48 xFIP. His K/BB per 0 is very similar to his overall career numbers at 9.66/3.34, but his hard-hit rate is up 2% and his barrel rate is up 3% over his career numbers.

I would assume that a big part of Giolito’s addition is managing the workload for rookie starters. My guess is that Giolito would move into the rotation and Curry would move to the pen, but it’s also possible that the team wants to shut either Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams or Logan Allen down for innings limit purposes. Giolito has approximately $1.9M remaining on his contract, so it’s nice to see the Dolans agree to take on some money late in the season.

Giolito is a perfectly serviceable 4th or 5th starter. He had a 4.96 xFIP in Los Angeles, but the Angels are apparently cursed, so I’d expect him to be in that 4.5 ERA/FIP range for Cleveland. He may also be able to help the Guardians understand how he has owned Guardians’ hitters in his career 3.17 FIP against them. Just pretend every opposing team is the Guardians, Lucas.

Lopez has a 3.93 ERA, a 4.27 FIP and 4.20 xFIP in 2023 with the White Sox and Angels. His strikeout rate is 11.6 per 9, a career high, but his walk rate is near 5 per 9, close to a career high. His HR/FB and barrel rates are up a couple percentage points, explaining the regression teams have seen in him. He’s still a very serviceable reliever with a career high average on his fastball of 98.4 mph. To fit Lopez, and Moore, on the roster, I’d assume the Guardians considered DFAing Cam Gallagher, Eric Haase, Michael Kelly or Peyton Battenfield, unless there was a player heading to the IL. Zack Meisel just reported the choices were Haase and Battenfield:

I’d then expect James Karinchak and Hunter Gaddis to return to Columbus (again, unless a rookie starter is being shut down). Lopez is owed approximately $623K for the rest of 2023.

Moore has been something of a revelation in 2023 as a reliever, appearing in 41 games with a 2.66 ERA, 3.77 FIP and 3.91 xFIP with a 10.02/2.45 K/BB/9. He has the highest K-rate and lowest BB-rate of his career. His fastball is at his career high in average mph at 94 and his changeup looks as good as ever, but he’s had a little decline in curveball quality, which seems like something Cleveland can generally help fix. Weirdly enough, Moore has been better against right-handed hitters than left-handed hitters in his career, and in 2023 his FIP has been almost a run and half worse against lefties. But, he’s still a very capable reliever who significantly lengthens the pen at approximately $1.3M for the rest of the season.

So, come Friday night, with rosters expanding to 28 players, the Guardians’ 26-man roster to be (with a demotion of Hunter Gaddis, Cody Morris and James Karinchak and a DFA of Eric Haase and Peyton Battenfield):

C: Bo Naylor
1B: Kole Calhoun
2B: Andres Gimenez
3B: Jose Ramirez
SS: Gabriel Arias
LF: Steven Kwan
CF: Myles Straw
RF: Ramon Laureano
DH: Will Brennan
Backup C: Cam Gallagher
IF: Jose Tena
OF: Oscar Gonzalez
IF: Tyler Freeman
C/IF/OF: David Fry

SP: Tanner Bibee
SP: Gavin Williams
SP: Logan Allen
SP: Lucas Giolito
SP: Cal Quantrill

RP: Xzavion Curry
RP: Sam Hentges
RP: Eli Morgan
RP: Nick Sandlin
RP: Matt Moore
RP: Reynaldo Lopez
RP: Enyel De Los Santos
RP: Trevor Stephan
RP: Emmanuel Clase

When Josh Naylor is back, likely on Monday, Oscar Gonzalez should be demoted to Columbus.

If Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie are able to rejoin the rotation, Michael Kelly, Hunter Gaddis, James Karinchak, Oscar Gonzalez and MAYBE Kole Calhoun will be next on the roster bubble, but it’s hard for me to see them DFAing Calhoun. It’s possible a player like Jhonkensy Noel could be cut, but I doubt it because of his youth. Jose Tena has safely played his way off a roster casualty. If we end up needing to cross that bridge because Bieber and McKenzie are legitimately ready to help (both have progressed to mound work), we’ll be glad to be at that point.

As much as we all criticize the Dolans, and often times for good reasons, for being cheap, these moves show a willingness to spend a little extra to increase playoff odds slightly. I do wonder if part of the willingness to add these players is a desire to send Tito off into the sunset with a last pleasant experience. For whatever reason, I approve of these moves and am excited for what should hopefully be an interesting September for the Cleveland Guardians.