CLEVELAND — Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti alluded to the fact that the team still had some moving parts when catcher Bo Naylor was brought up to be on the club’s taxi squad, but not officially added to the roster. Saturday provided clarity.
The Guardians designated reliever Bryan Shaw for assignment to clear room for Naylor on the 40-man and active rosters. The team also optioned infielder Tyler Freeman to Triple-A Columbus to get Zach Plesac (right hand fracture) back on the roster to make his start on Saturday.
It was clear there was a possibility of Shaw getting designated for assignment prior to the postseason. The team wanted to find a way to get Naylor, the club’s No. 5 prospect and brother of first baseman Josh Naylor, on its roster, and Shaw’s 5.40 ERA and sporadic usage out of the ‘pen made sense to part ways with. However, the organization couldn’t be fonder of the 34-year-old right-hander, after he spent 2013-17 and the last two seasons with the team.
But Shaw doesn’t quite fit in the Guardians’ long-term picture. The youth movement is in full force in Cleveland and somehow the team just found a way to get even younger, eliminating one of just four players who are in their 30s from the active roster and adding a 22-year-old, highly touted prospect in Naylor.
With Shaw’s departure, it’s even more likely that Cody Morris will be carried on the postseason roster and used in relief. The Guardians have also mentioned the idea of moving Plesac to the bullpen to provide a multi-inning option should it be needed, considering the rotation will only need three hurlers to fill a three-game Wild Card Round.
Now, Cleveland may carry a third catcher for the postseason in Naylor, assuming all goes smoothly with his transition to the big leagues. Naylor has earned the opportunity on the big stage after having a relatively disappointing 2021 season with Double-A Akron. He hit just .188 with a .612 OPS in 87 games. He worked feverishly over the offseason to make sure he wouldn’t repeat that in ’22 — and it has certainly paid off. Cleveland’s player development staff has raved about Naylor’s improvements all year.
Naylor ended his Minor League season hitting .263 with an .888 OPS, 26 doubles, four triples, 21 homers and 20 stolen bases in 118 games between Double-A and Triple-A.