The Guardians and Myles Straw have agreed to a five-year contract extension, with club options covering the 2027 and 2028 seasons, per Zack Meisel of The Athletic. The deal is worth $25MM, per Mandy Bell of MLB.com, with the options valued at $8MM in 2027 and $8.5MM in 2028. This is the third extension for the club in recent days, following the deals for Emmanuel Clase and Jose Ramirez.
Straw was drafted by the Astros in the 12th round in 2015 and earned attention in the minors for his speed and defense. He stole at least 20 bags in the minors in his first three season in 2015-2017, before swiping 70 bags between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018. He was ranked by Baseball America as one of Houston’s top 20 prospects in 2018 and 2019. That latter season, he saw his first extended stretch of MLB action, hitting .269/.378/.343 in 56 games, along with eight steals.
At last year’s deadline, he was acquired by a Cleveland team that was looking to fill an outfield that had been mired in uncertainty for quite some time. Between the two teams, he hit .271/.349/.348. That production was just barely below league average (98 wRC+), though Straw was better after the trade than before. He also stole 30 bases on the year and provided excellent defense, coming in seventh among center fielders in the 2021 Fielding Bible Award voting. Desperate that average-ish batting line, he was still worth 3.7 wins above replacement, in the estimation of FanGraphs, due to his athleticism in the field and on the bases. He should now give the team a stable presence in the middle of the outfield for years to come.
Straw finished last year with two years and 112 days of service time, just four days shy of the 2.116 Super Two cutoff for the most recent offseason. That means he wasn’t going to qualify for arbitration until after this year. This deal will cover his four remaining years of team control and at least one free agent year, with the options potentially accounting for two more. The 27-year-old Straw will be 31 in the final guaranteed year, with the options covering his age-32 and age-33 campaigns.
Prior to this extension, and the deals for Clase and Ramirez, the Guardians had a clean slate on their payroll beyond this year. Now all three of them could potentially form a core for the club to build around, with each player under control through 2028. (Ramirez’s deal is guaranteed, while Clase and Straw are each guaranteed through 2026 with the two club options.) The majority of the rest of the roster is young players who have either not yet reached or just recently qualified for arbitration.
With the White Sox still looking like division favorites, the Twins aggressively reloading after a down year and the Tigers and Royals both coming out of rebuilds, the division looks like it is on the cusp of becoming stronger in the years to come. Even with these deals, the Guardians still have plenty of payroll flexibility, even for a typically low-spending club like them, with Ramirez still earning the only significant salary in the years to come.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.