The Guardians announced a series of roster moves in setting their 40-man roster in advance of next month’s Rule 5 Draft. In addition to tonight’s pair of trades — Nolan Jones to the Rockies; Carlos Vargas to the D-backs — Cleveland has designated lefties Anthony Gose and Kirk McCarty for assignment. The series of subtractions from the 40-man paves the way for the Guardians to select the contracts of infielder Angel Martinez and lefties Joey Cantillo and Tim Herrin. Cleveland also selected infielder Juan Brito, whom they acquired from Colorado in exchange for Jones. The team’s 40-man roster is at capacity.
It’s been quite the year for McCarty, from a transactions standpoint. Originally called to the Majors as a Covid replacement in April, McCarty was returned to the minors shortly thereafter but formally selected to the 40-man roster the following month. Cleveland designated him for assignment on July 3, after which he was claimed by the Orioles, who designated him for assignment just nine days later and lost him on waivers… back to the Guardians. Beyond that series of moves, McCarty was optioned to the minors on four separate occasions over the course of his roller coaster season.
The 27-year-old McCarty generated decent but unspectacular results at the big league level in his his rookie effort this year, logging a 4.54 ERA in 37 2/3 frames. His 16.4% strikeout rate was well below average, but he turned in a respectable 8.2% walk rate. McCarty has well above-average spin on his fastball and curveball, but he doesn’t throw especially hard or miss many bats, and the 2.63 HR/9 he yielded this season is an obvious red flag. He was solid in Triple-A (3.52 ERA in 65 1/3 innings) and does have multiple minor league option years remaining, so another club in need of some left-handed depth could conceivably take a look.
Gose, 32, was one of baseball’s feel-good stories in recent years. Originally a second-round pick and top prospect as an outfielder, his career stalled out after he was unable to produce much at the plate in the Majors or in the upper minors. Gose, a two-way star in high school who some scouts preferred as a pitcher in the draft, got back on the mound in A-ball as a 26-year-old in 2017 and, after taking several years to refine his command and learn to control his blazing fastball, finally made it back to the big leagues in 2021.
Gose didn’t just return to the Majors last year, though. He tossed 6 2/3 innings out of the Cleveland bullpen and allowed just a run on two hits and two walks with nine strikeouts and a heater that averaged 99.2 mph. It was a small sample, of course, but Gose stormed out of the gates in 2022 with 20 1/3 innings of 3.10 ERA ball and a 31.4% strikeout rate. Walks looked like an issue (14%), but by that point Gose’s big league pitching career consisted of 27 innings of 3.00 ERA ball with 36 strikeouts.
The Yankees pounced on Gose for four runs in his next outing, however, after which he landed on the injured list. The Guardians initially characterized the move as one made out of necessity with a doubleheader looming, but Gose’s absence proved protracted, and more than two months after he was shelved, the team announced Gose had undergone Tommy John surgery. The Sept. 14 date of the procedure all but formally rules Gose out for the 2023 campaign, so it’s no surprise to see the Guardians open his roster spot in this fashion.
Joining the Guardians’ 40-man roster are two of their top 30 prospects — Martinez and Cantillo — as well as a lefty reliever (Herrin) who posted eye-popping numbers in Double-A. Baseball America ranks Martinez 12th in Cleveland’s system and Cantillo 15th. Martinez hit .278/.378/.471 as a 20-year-old between High-A and Double-A this season. Cantillo was limited to just 60 2/3 innings by a shoulder strain this season but made 14 appearances (13 starts) with a 1.93 ERA and 35.5% strikeout rate. Herrin, 26, turned in a 2.01 ERA and 41.6% strikeout rate in 22 1/3 Double-A innings before being bumped to Triple-A, where he recorded a 4.98 ERA and “just” a 30.9% strikeout rate in 47 frames.