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Guardians waive Myles Straw, former Gold Glove winner owed more than $19 million, per report

The Cleveland Guardians placed Myles Straw, the team’s primary center fielder for the past two and a half seasons, on waivers on Friday, according to The Athletic’s Zack Meisel. Straw is unlikely to be claimed by another organization, given he has more than $19 million outstanding on the extension he signed with the Guardians in April 2022.

Straw, 29, is instead expected to clear waivers and be outrighted to the minors. Players with more than five years of service time can reject an outright assignment and become free agents while still being paid what he’s owed. Unfortunately for Straw, and as first noted by MLB Trade Rumors, he falls about two months short of that threshold. 

The Guardians made their investment in Straw at the onset of the 2022 season, or just over half a year after acquiring him from the Houston Astros. Straw had performed well in his initial introduction to Cleveland, batting .285/.362/.377 (105 OPS+) in 60 games to close out the 2021 campaign. Alas, those marks did not hold. In the two seasons since, he’s posted a 67 OPS+ while reaching base just 29.6% of the time.

Straw remains an outstanding defensive outfielder — he won a Gold Glove Award in 2022, and he ranked in the 89th percentile in Outs Above Average in 2023 — but the Guardians clearly want more offensive production from the center-field position. What exactly that entails for the Guardians is to be seen.

For the time being, Cleveland’s most obvious internal options in center are converted infielder Tyler Freeman and former New York Yankees prospect Estevan Florial. Freeman has had the better spring of the two, hitting .286/.355/.429 entering Saturday. (Florial has hit .150/.209/.175.) The Guardians have spoken highly of how Freeman has taken to center, suggesting he could be the favorite to win the starting gig.

“I think Tyler has done, in our view, an extraordinary job in transitioning as a very capable center fielder and outfielder in general,” top baseball operations executive Chris Antonetti told MLB.com. “So we view him as a very, very good and real option for us in the outfield, as well as the infield.”

The Guardians will begin their season on March 28 against the Oakland Athletics.

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