2022 MLB front office rankings: The American League Central

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 03: Vice President/General Manager Rick Hahn Senior of the Chicago White Sox speaks during a press conference prior to a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 03, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 03: Vice President/General Manager Rick Hahn Senior of the Chicago White Sox speaks during a press conference prior to a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 03, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 6
Next
Mike Chernoff. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Chernoff. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff, Cleveland Guardians

Impact: +5.9

Division rank: first

MLB rank: fifth

Antonetti and Chernoff ran one of only three front office systems — the others being in the Bronx and Los Angeles — to rank among the 2022 top 10 in all three major action areas: trades, free agents and farm system products. The Guardians ranked seventh in net value gained from deals with other teams, fifth on the free agent market, and fifth again for rookie value.

The kind of across-the-board production succinctly explains why the Guardians may have been baseball’s surprise team of the season.

Chernoff kept things pretty tranquil, making only 37 moves that involved a MLB player. Eighteen of those moves produced positive value to the Guardians, 15 were negative and four were neutral.

They were the two major front office actions, both of which tipped the scales decidedly in favor of Cleveland.

Just before the season’s start, Chernoff signed star third baseman Jose Ramirez to a $141 million deal that will keep him in Cleveland through 2028. Ramirez, a fur-time All Star and frequent finalist among MVP candidates, responded with a .280 average, 29 home runs, an .869 OPS and a +3.8 WAA.

Of all player moves prior to and during 2022, only the signings of Justin Verlander in Houston and Max Scherzer in New York, plus the promotion of Seattle rookie Julio Rodriguez, provided the acquiring team with a greater WAA boost.

Chernoff doubled down on that by installing rookie Steven Kwan as the team’s regular left fielder and leadoff hitter on opening day. Kwan batted .298 with a .772 OPS, and he fanned less than 10 percent of the time, an extraordinary accomplishment in a league where the norm is more than twice that frequently. For Kwan, it added up to an additional +3.5 WAA.

That in turn made Chernoff one of only two front office execs — Houston’s Jim Click being the other — to add a pair of +3.4 or higher valued players this season.

Like several small market teams, the Guardians made farm system production a focus of their 2022 movement; they were just better at it. Nearly half of the aforementioned 37 moves involved the promotion of a farm product, others aside from Kwan including outfielder Oscar Gonzalez and pitcher Konnor Pilkington.

The net impact on Cleveland of those 18 callups was +1.5 WAA. If a +1.5 movement doesn’t sound impressive, consider this: Only eight of the 30 major league teams netted positive impact from their system callups in 2022.