The Cleveland Indians entered the year with Josh Naylor holding down the job in right field.
He is now getting more time at first base as Jake Bauers rides the bench against right-handed pitching.
This is a shift from the initial platoon approach featuring Bauers and Yu Chang.
It is clear the Indians want Jordan Luplow in the lineup everyday.
Andres Gimenez is also getting regular time at shortstop.
If Terry Francona also wants Amed Rosario in the lineup on days with Gimenez and Luplow, that means Naylor heads to first and Bauers is the odd man out.
So let’s say Naylor slowly but surely becomes the everyday first baseman.
What does that mean for the rest of the roster?
Josh Naylor has himself a three-hit night and is aboard to start the 9th.#OurCLE pic.twitter.com/GrpNWZpYjD
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) April 27, 2021
The Jake Bauers Question
This seems to be the easiest answer of all.
Bauers may be on his way out unless he somehow has the week of his life at the plate.
He is out of minor league options and being cut seems to be the likely outcome for him in 2021.
Bauers has four hits in 33 at-bats this season and is never going to improve with sporadic playing time.
The fact he has been on the bench against right-handed pitching is a terrible sign for him.
Infield or Outfield?
Some fans may believe cutting Bauers would mean Bobby Bradley automatically comes up to take his place.
Another likely scenario is someone like Daniel Johnson coming up and getting a shot in either center field or right field.
Luplow can remain an everyday player and Rosario can get time all over the field as a reserve player.
Two hits for Oscar Mercado and Bobby Bradley last night and a homer for Owen Miller. https://t.co/cwMGxjCRp9
— Indians Baseball Insider (@Official_IBI) April 21, 2021
The latter is not exactly dominating at the plate this season.
Oscar Mercado joins Johnson as someone who could get called up in May as well.
As for Bradley Zimmer, he may be out of chances given all the younger options in front of him.
Patience with Naylor
Some fans were ready to give up on Naylor entirely after he made an error that cost the Indians a game earlier this month.
But errors happen and the front office isn’t going to let one play define the 23-year-old.
His age is the important thing to remember.
Naylor has never played a full MLB season and is also not an everyday first baseman.
He was acquired last year in the Mike Clevinger trade and is seen as a long-term piece.
However, the beauty here is that there is a ton of depth behind him.
So if things don’t work out, others can step in while Naylor works on what needs to be fixed.
It would be nice for the Indians to have solid players at nearly every position on the field.
However, the lack of spending leads to young players competing at spots all over the field.
Someone like Bauers may go, allowing someone else to take his place and hopefully provide better results.
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