The Guardians made a series of roster moves this morning, per Zack Meisel of The Athletic. Infielder Richie Palacios has been designated for assignment and left-hander Tim Herrin has been optioned to Triple-A in order to make room for right-hander Cody Morris, who was activated from the 60-day IL this morning.
A third round pick by Cleveland in the 2018 draft, Palacios made his MLB debut for the club last year, though he struggled to a .232/.293/.286 slash line (good for a wRC+ of just 65) in 54 games with the club. Those struggles came in spite of fantastic minor league numbers, as Palacios hit at an above average level at every stop on his minor league journey until his major league debut. That includes a 2021 campaign where he slashed an impressive .297/.404/.471 in 103 games split between the Double-A and Triple-A levels.
Unfortunately, things have taken a turn for the worse for Palacios in 2023, as the young infielder has failed to hit even at the Triple-A level, with a meager .217/.351/.318 slash line that’s good for a wRC+ of just 78 in 56 games with Columbus this season. Those struggles have seemingly caused the Guardians to pull the plug on Palacios, who they will now have seven days to trade or attempt to pass through waivers.
As a 26-year-old infielder with positional versatility, past success in the minors, and options remaining, Palacios seems likely to be an attractive option for infield-needy clubs on the waiver wire, though if he were to pass through waivers he would not be able to reject an outright assignment from the Guardians.
Herrin, 26, heads to Columbus after making his major league debut earlier this season. In ten appearances with the Guardians, the lefty struggled to a 6.39 ERA across 12 2/3 innings of work, allowing two home runs, five walks, and hitting a batter. Those issues with the long ball and control hampered Herrin even as he posted a solid 25.5% strikeout rate in the majors. Herrin figures to act as bullpen depth for Cleveland going forward in Triple-A, where he has posted a 3.63 ERA in 17 1/3 innings of work this season.
Those moves pave the way for the return of Morris, a 26-year-old right-hander who made an impressive big league debut with the Guardians last season. In seven appearances split between the bullpen and the rotation, Morris posted a 2.28 ERA (170 ERA+), though his 4.34 FIP indicates there may have been some good fortune in those run prevention numbers, particularly given the fact that his 12% walk rate and 35.4% groundball rate all leave something to be desired.
Still, Morris’s minor league numbers are certainly intriguing, with a career 1.68 ERA and a 37.8% strikeout rate in 80 1/3 innings of work between the Double-A and Triple-A levels. After opening the season on the injured list with a teres major strain, Morris now figures to assist the Guardians pitching staff as an option for both the rotation and the bullpen going forward, though he seems ticketed for the bullpen for the time being.