The Guardians announced that Josh Naylor has been activated from the 10-day injured list, with outfielder Oscar Gonzalez headed to Triple-A in the corresponding move. Naylor will return to Cleveland’s lineup after missing over a month due to a strained oblique.
Naylor was initially projected to miss between three to six weeks, so he’ll get back to action roughly halfway through that estimated recovery timetable. While missing Naylor for any amount of time was a blow to the Guardians, the club will at least get their second-best hitter back for most of September, and Naylor fortunately avoided any kind of lingering oblique issue that might’ve threatened his season entirely.
With a .306/.346/.500 slash line and 15 homers over 390 plate appearances this season, Naylor has joined Jose Ramirez as essentially the only premium bats within a lackluster Guardians lineup. The timing of Naylor’s injury seemed to almost close the door on the Guards’ chances of contending, as the team had already moved Aaron Civale, Amed Rosario, and Josh Bell in advance of the trade deadline.
However, while Cleveland is only 13-16 since the start of August, they remain five games behind the Twins for first place in the AL Central. Naylor’s impending return might have inspired the Guardians’ decision to be aggressive during the recent flurry of pre-September 1 waiver placements, as the Guards bolstered their pitching ranks by claiming Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Matt Moore from the Angels. It remains to be seen if these new arms and Naylor’s bat might be enough to get Cleveland past Minnesota, but even with a 66-70 record, the Guardians aren’t quitting on the 2023 campaign.