Grading AL Central front offices at midpoint of the 2024 MLB season

Chicago White Sox v Arizona Diamondbacks
Chicago White Sox v Arizona Diamondbacks / Chris Coduto/GettyImages
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Cleveland Guardians: Chris Antonetti, president of baseball operations; Mike Chernoff, general manager. Grade: F.

The Guardians are 25 games above .500 and featuring one of baseball’s best records. How in the heck can Antonetti and Chernoff get a failing midterm grade?

The answer, as noted in an earlier chapter, lies in what the Front Office rating system does and does not do. It does not attempt to mirror a team’s record. Rather, it attempts to assess a team’s standing relative to what it would have been, had the front office done nothing.

And the truth is that as well as the Guardians have played, they have also been the majors’ No. 1 distributor of premium talent.

Since the end of the 2023 postseason, Antonetti and Chernoff have done a very good job of bringing talent to Cleveland. Of the 17 players they’ve incorporated into the team’s big league roster, 11 have generated positive value.

But they’ve done an even better – which is to say, "poorer" – job of distributing talent elsewhere. Six members of the 2023 Guardians are today laboring for other major league teams, and their collective impact on their new franchises adds up to 5.0 games.

Only one other MLB team – the Angels at 3.1 games -- has shipped more than two games worth of talent to other franchises … and the Angels lost Shohei Ohtani.

Two players account for most of the talent hemorrhage. In November, Antonetti and Chernoff traded pitcher Cal Quantrill to Colorado for a minor leaguer. Quantrill has a winning record in 16 starts in Denver, good for 2.4 WAA, and that counts against the Guardians’ score.

They also released Reynaldo Lopez into free agency as a spare part pitcher. Lopez signed with the Braves and has a 1.57 ERA in 13 starts, good for a 2.4 WAA. That’s another 2.4 detriment to the Guardians.

There are pluses in the Guardians’ record, notably rookie utility player David Fry. His .307 average translates to +1.2 AWW. But the 23 moves made by Antonetti and Chernoff end up breaking almost evenly: 12 favorable, 11 unfavorable. And the unfavorable ones, such as the losses of Quantrill and Lopez, had greater impact.

And that’s how a first place front office gets a failing grade.

Score: -3.4. Grade: F.