Cleveland Guardians could have shortstop dilemma in 2022

Sep 8, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Amed Rosario (1) throws to first base against the Minnesota Twins in the fifth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Amed Rosario (1) throws to first base against the Minnesota Twins in the fifth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /
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Is Amed Rosario really the answer for the Cleveland Guardians at shortstop in 2022? That’s one of the biggest questions the team will have to answer once spring training begins.

What will the Cleveland Guardians do at shortstop in 2022?

Last season, in his first season with Cleveland, Rosario got the bulk of playing time at shortstop, appearing in 121 games at the position (starting 118 of them). While he had a solid season at the plate, slashing .282/.321/.409 with 11 home runs and 57 RBI, he struggled in the field, posting a negative-3 Outs Above Average, tying him for 22nd among all Major League Baseball shortstops.

Now the question revolves around Rosario and the shortstop position for 2022. Rosario did start 14 games for Cleveland in center field last season, but it’s clear that shortstop is his more natural position.

Could Andrés Giménez get more playing time at shortstop in 2022? He was one of a group of four players who saw time for Cleveland at second base last season as no one truly stood out at the position. Cesar Hernandez, who saw the most time at second base in 2021 for Cleveland, is now a member of the Washington Nationals, so the position could be for the taking if Giménez can grab it in spring training.

The problem is that Giménez didn’t show much in the way of offense last season, slashing .218/.282/.351 in 188 at-bats. So, while he may have had a somewhat stronger defensive year than Rosario (finishing with negative-1 Outs Above Average), the bat is lacking.

Lurking in the wings for Cleveland is top prospect Tyler Freeman, who has played 268 minor league games at shortstop (including just 26 last season before undergoing shoulder surgery) and is projected to make his MLB debut sometime this season. You can check out his highlight reel here, but there are plenty of Cleveland fans who are excitedly waiting to see what he can do at the Major League level.

Which position will Freeman play when he arrives? He has played 27 games in his MiLB career at second base, so there is a possibility there. However, could Freeman slide in at shortstop and cause Rosario to see more time in the outfield? It’s a distinct possibility.

Some scouts believe that Freeman will eventually become a second baseman, a position that is a question mark for the Guardians heading into the season. However, that’s more down the road than at the start of Freeman’s career, and Freeman will likely start the season at Triple-A to see how his shoulder fares and bat plays after a layoff.

Next. Examining the Hall of Fame case for Kenny Lofton. dark

Cleveland will likely have Rosario and Giménez as their middle infield starters on Opening Day, but don’t be surprised if second base and shortstop undergo a transformation for the Guardians as the season rolls along.