The trade ends Florial’s tenure with the Yankees, with whom he signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2015. After posting solid numbers in the lower levels of the minor leagues during his teenage years and reaching the High-A level before his 20th birthday, Florial began getting buzz as a consensus top-50 prospect throughout the sport prior to the 2018 season. Unfortunately, things came off the rails for Florial somewhat from there as the outfielder struggled at the High-A level in both 2018 and 2019. He made his big league debut during the shortened 2020 season and since then has served as a depth outfielder for the big league Yankees, with 48 appearances in the majors total in his four-year big league career.
While Florial, 26, has managed a slash line of just .209/.313/.296 across his 134 career plate appearances in the majors, his time in the minor leagues has seen him improve substantially in recent years. Fl0rial sports a career slash line of .265/.358/.490 at the Triple-A level, with an even more impressive .284/.380/.565 slash line in 101 games at the level in 2023. Given Florial’s extremely limited big league exposure to this point in his career, it’s easy to imagine him finding some level of success in Cleveland, where he should have a clear path to at least semi-regular at-bats. The Guardians put forth the third-worst outfield unit in the majors last year by measure of wRC+, as the club’s outfielders collectively hit just .250/.312/.342. Florial could challenge the likes of Ramon Laureano and Myles Straw for regular playing time alongside Steven Kwan, who appears locked into left field entering the 2024 campaign.
In exchange for Florial’s services, the Guardians are parting with Morris. The 27-year-old right-hander was the club’s seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft and first made his big league debut in 2022, where he performed well in seven appearances (five starts). While Morris posted an elevated walk rate of 12% that pushed his FIP up to 4.34, he struck out a respectable 23% of batters faced and managed an excellent 2.28 ERA in 23 2/3 innings of work during his first season in the majors.
In the minor leagues, Morris was even more impressive, 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 as the 2022 campaign came to a close. Morris opened the 2023 season on the injured list due to a teres major strain but returned to action in June. While the right-hander put up respectable numbers at Triple-A, including a 3.23 ERA in 39 innings of work across 21 appearances, he struggled badly across six relief appearances in the majors with a 6.75 ERA over eight innings of work.
Despite Morris’s struggles with injury and ineffectiveness at the big league level last year, he provides the Yankees with an interesting, optionable arm who has experience pitching both out of the rotation and in the bullpen with strong numbers at the minor league level and some small-sample size success at the big league level. That type of arm would surely be attractive to just about any club, but could be particularly appealing to the Yankees after the club shipped cost-controlled pitchers like Michael King, Randy Vasquez, and Jhony Brito to San Diego as part of the package that landed the club Juan Soto earlier this month.
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