The Guardians announced a series of roster moves prior to today’s game, recalling infielder Gabriel Arias and selecting outfielder Will Brennan. In corresponding moves, outfielder Richie Palacios was optioned while infielder Ernie Clement was designated for assignment.
Clement, 26, was first added to Cleveland’s 40-man roster in November of 2020, prior to that year’s Rule 5 draft. Since that time, he’s bounced between the majors and the minors, not hitting much in either case. In 104 MLB games between last year and this year, he has a career batting line of .214/.273/.274. That production amounts to a wRC+ of 55, or 45% below league average. In 21 games in Triple-A this year, it hasn’t been much better, with Clement hitting .238/.291/.428, wRC+ of 89.
Clement’s best tool is arguably his ability to avoid punchouts. He’s only gone down on strikes in 14.9% of his plate appearances in the big leagues this year, well below the 22.3% league average. That hasn’t translated into strong results just yet, but that could give him a floor to build on as he looks to create more meaningful contact. He also brings defensive versatility to the table, having played all four infield positions, as well as left field and even mop-up duty on the mound. He can still be optioned for the remainder of this year and one more season after this, meaning a team interested in his skills could grab him off waivers and stash him in the minors. Since the trade deadline has passed, the Guardians will have no choice but to put him on outright or release waivers in the coming days.
Taking his spot on the 40-man roster is the 24-year-old Brennan. He was an eighth-round selection of Cleveland in 2019 and has never really been a top prospect, but just keeps hitting everywhere he goes. This year, he’s split his time between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .315/.373/.482 for a wRC+ of 128. He’s also struck out in just 11.6% of his plate appearances. Based on his strong season, he jumped onto Baseball America’s list of top Cleveland farmhands for the first time at their midseason update, currently sitting in the #17 spot. The Guards will give him a shot to see if his incredible bat-to-ball skills can play at the major league level. He’ll jump into an outfield mix next to Myles Straw, Oscar Gonzalez, Steven Kwan and Will Benson for the final playoff push and perhaps try to earn a spot on the postseason roster. The Guardians are currently atop the AL Central with a five-game lead over the White Sox and just two weeks remaining in the regular season.