Gim?nez breaking out, making trade worth it

June 5th, 2022

BALTIMORE — As with any big trade, it’ll be years before anyone can properly assess the Francisco Lindor deal from the Guardians’ side, with fiery debate and fluctuating opinions likely in the years ahead. But if Andr?s Gim?nez keeps this up, it might one day be referred to as the Andr?s Gim?nez trade.

One of the emerging stars of the 2022 season, the Guardians second baseman continued breaking out in Saturday afternoon’s 5-4 loss to the Orioles, homering as part of a multihit day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The matinee defeat also featured home run No. 14 for Jos? Ram?rez, who extended his MLB-best RBI total to 53 with a first-inning solo shot off Tyler Wells.

That’s a 47-homer, 179-RBI pace for Ram?rez. With “JRam” locked up through 2028 and Amed Rosario (0-for-4, .573 OPS) struggling again, Gim?nez’s emergence is providing a glimpse of what the left side of Cleveland’s infield could look like for years to come. For now, the 23-year-old already quietly ranks among the game’s most valuable second basemen just 17 months removed from the trade, batting .308 with a .857 OPS, six homers and 1.7 fWAR (tied for third at the position).

“He’s been good,” manager Terry Francona said. “I think he’s got a year under his belt, and he knows he belongs. And when things don’t go right, he knows to stay with the program — don’t change your stance — and everything will be OK.”

The past week has been a particularly productive stretch, with Gim?nez hitting safely in seven straight and batting .385 with three extra-base hits as Cleveland has won four of seven. He’s growing into more power as a result. Saturday’s homer, which landed on Eutaw Street, was Gim?nez’s sixth in 41 games; he hit five in 68 games last season, and never hit more than 10 in a season in the Minors.

“He put a charge in that ball today,” Francona said.

Gim?nez is also yet to commit a defensive error at either second base or shortstop, is tied for sixth among all defenders with 5 Outs Above Average and ranks in the 95th percentile in sprint speed, per Statcast.

“The work that I put in in the offseason is what is really helping me now,” Gim?nez said, through team interpreter Agustin Rivero. “I’m trying to do the same thing every day. That will lead to the consistency that I want, which is to swing at good pitches and to help the team.”

The numbers are even more eye-opening next to Lindor’s, who is heating up as of late but yet to recreate his superstar-level production in New York. This year, they’ve been comparable players, and the Guardians believe Gim?nez is far from reaching his ceiling. A closer look:

Gim?nez in 2022

41 games
1.7 fWAR
4 stolen bases (4 attempts)
146 wRC+
5 OOA (97th percentile)

Lindor in 2022 (entering Saturday)

53 games
2.0 WAR
7 SB (9 attempts)
122 wRC+
2 OOA (79th percentile)

Of course, any direct comparison is an incomplete recounting of the trade, which also sent Carlos Carrasco to New York and Rosario and prospects Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene to Cleveland. Carrasco is enjoying a nice bounceback season at age 35, while Greene (Cleveland’s No. 27 ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline) and Wolf are 20 and 21 years old, respectively, and in Single-A, with Wolf yet to pitch this season due to injury.

The disproportionate financial dynamics, too, complicate any comparison. The Mets owe Lindor $341 million through 2031 and paid $24 million for two seasons of Carrasco (with a $14 million team option for 2023), while the small-market Guardians control Rosario through ’24 and Gim?nez through ’27. Gim?nez isn’t arbitration-eligible until next season, and he is making near the league minimum this year; if he’s producing even comparably to Lindor (and he is), it’s pennies on the dollar for the Guardians.

“The momentum I was feeling last year at Triple-A last year carried over,” Gim?nez said. “Since I arrived here, I’ve felt like I belong with this organization and with this team.”