Cleveland Guardians fans have been patiently waiting throughout the whole offseason and then waiting for the lockout to end to find out how the team would improve. There were rumblings that maybe Cleveland would look to bring a veteran presence in outfielder Joc Pederson. That did not happen. The Guardians did sign reliever Bryan Shaw to a one-year deal late last month. They have not made a splash signing, which is an indication they are not serious about contending with Minnesota or the Chicago White Sox. The team is looking for their youth to contribute this season.

The team extended a player’s contract surprising I know right?

It is not Jose Ramirez, although they should lock him up as he is the face of the franchise. Instead, the Guardians extended Emmanuel Clase to a five-year 20 million dollar contract. At just 24 years old, Clase took over the reins as Cleveland’s closer. Clase can reach 100 mph on his fastball consistently. In 71 game appearances last year, Clase finished with 24 saves, 74 strikeouts, a WHIP of 0.96 and a 1.29 ERA. Clase finished 5th in the American League Rookie Of The Year award. These are small size numbers, though the club sees the talent and the upside in his development. It is a smart move considering Clase won’t become a free agent until 2027. The Guardians Front Office is saving more money down the road.

While every season is unpredictable, this team could surprise the league and contend with the White Sox and Twins. Most likely, the team should be competing for the AL Central division within a year or two. The organization does an exceptional job of drafting and developing players. The team’s nucleus is the starting rotation which features talented young pitchers in Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie and Zach Plesac. One thing is for sure, Emmanuel Clase will be the closer for this team. Opening Day is just around the corner. The Guardians will travel to Kansas City to face the Royals. Will Clase be lights out this season, or will the pressure get the best of him? A new era is beginning in Cleveland. A new season is like a breath of fresh air!

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