During a Zoom call with reporters including Zack Meisel of the Athletic, Indians’ manager Terry Francona all but named Andrés Giménez the team’s everyday shortstop. Francona spoke glowingly of Giménez’s pace and understanding of the game from a defensive standpoint. He also noted that their confidence in Giménez was a primary driver behind Amed Rosario being asked to get reps in centerfield (and elsewhere).
Giménez became a fan favorite during his one season with the Mets as a 21-year-old. While he doesn’t project for much punch at the plate (nor patience), a triple slash line of .263/.333/.398 showed enough for the Indians to saddle him with the weighty responsibility of replacing franchise legend Francisco Lindor.
Offensively, he won’t come close to matching Lindor’s all-around play, but he does have the skill set to more-or-less replace Lindor’s contributions with the glove. None of ZiPS, Steamer, The Bat X or ATC think very highly of Giménez’s ability at the plate: The four projection systems forecast a range of .296 wOBA to .306 wOBA, despite a .321 wOBA in 2020. Even if he outperforms his forecasts, he’ll likely need to excel defensively to make a positive on-field impact in 2021.
Lindor tied for second among shortstops in 2020 with seven outs above average, but Giménez finished with four OAA himself with a six percent success rate added – the best such mark among shortstops. Lindor posted a three percent success rate added. For what it’s worth, Giménez managed saw just 182 innings in the field, which can both help and hurt his defensive metrics. Essentially, Giménez figures to be a strong performer with the glove, but just how strong isn’t exactly clear. Francona noted his sure-handedness with the glove, and it’s at least within the realm of possibility that he grows into one of the better gloveman at the position.
With Giménez likely to man short, Rosario will be pushed into a utility role. Rosario has long been viewed as having the tools to provide plus defense, but he’ll have to do so from various spots around the diamond. It will be a new challenge for the 25-year-old, who has played all but three career innings at shortstop. With César Hernández and José Ramírez at second and third, the infield is largely spoken for – though Rosario will have opportunities to spell both players, as well as Giménez at short. One would think he would start most games against southpaws somewhere on the infield.
Because of Rosario’s $2.4MM contract, there’s little doubt that Rosario will make the roster. His exact role, however, will be a situation worth watching through the season’s first couple of months. Giménez might have seen some time in the minors as a pre-arbitration player with three options remaining, but that now appears less likely.