Every year there are dozens and dozens of roster moves, more now with the advent of the 10-day DL instead of the 15-day variety. A relief pitcher like Evan Marshall or Ben Taylor is smart to get a discount gas card doing the shuttle between Columbus and Cleveland. However, there are only a handful of moves made to the 25-man roster that have real-life, overarching consequences that are impactful to the win-loss column over the course of more than a few games. One such move is expected over the next 24 hours: the activation of Bradley Zimmer from the disabled list and subsequent demotion/designation for assignment of an outfielder currently on the roster. WFNY’s Michael Bode covered what “should be” and what “will be” done yesterday, but I’m here today to make a plea: don’t send Greg Allen to Columbus.
Allen has contractual options left,1 which is the purveying reasoning behind him being the one to get the proverbial ax when Zimmer and/or Shane Bieber get the call to the majors for today’s game. The other options would be designating Melky Cabrera and Rajai Davis for assignment, with the…Melk Man…being the other glaringly obvious choice, but since both were signed to minor league deals and have “risen through the ranks”2 to be on the big league squad, the only way to maneuver them off of the roster for Zimmer would be to DFA them, effectively ending their time with Cleveland. Because Bieber is not on the 40-man roster, I expect a reliever,3 to be designated for assignment so as to put Bieber on both the 25- and 40-man rosters.
Greg Allen be like pic.twitter.com/1VLQSV3szM
— Joe Gerberry (@THEGerbsWFNY) May 30, 2018
But this isn’t about Bieber, as he will inevitably be covered in length after his 85-pitch, four hit, three strikeouts, no walks, seven-inning start.4 It’s not even really about dragging Davis or Cabrera through the muck, deserving as they might be. It’s about allowing a player that could and should be a building block in the foundation of this franchise to go through his growing pains in the majors. Honestly, it’s about putting the best 25-man roster on the field, day in, day out.
While the beginning of his time in Cleveland this season was not the best, Allen has been secretly playing some great baseball over the last week of games. In his last seven games, Allen has nine hits in 29 plate appearances, scored five runs, hit his first home run of the season, and stolen a base, all on the way to a wRC+ of 137. He has looked more comfortable at the plate, a combination of slap hitter but with more lift to his swing. He has an average exit velocity of 85.2 which is decent, (compared to Ramirez at 88.7 or Francisco Lindor at 91.4) but an average launch angle of 2.3 needs some work. Basically, Allen looks like the type of hitter Willie Mays Hayes was trying to be at the beginning of Major League but actually succeeding at it.5
Compare Allen to Cabrera or Davis, both carrying -0.3 fWAR over the course of the season, which is actually impressive by Cabrera being that he has only been with the club for 10 games and 38 plate appearances, and you can easily see that the youngest of the trio is rightfully deserving of staying with the big club, even if it means cutting one or the other loose. You can make arguments that Davis and or Cabrera bring more to the table than just their performance, but looking into the numbers allows you to see that they are actively hurting the club with their play. If the plusses they bring to the clubhouse do not outweigh their negatives on the field, then get them off the roster and into a coaching staff or “special assistant to the manager” type role. Unfortunately, lockerroom guidance does not show up on a FanGraphs stat sheet, so we are left with only what is played between the lines as evidence, and boy is it damning for those two.
There is little reasoning for Allen to be the victim of the roster shuffle when Zimmer or Lonnie Chisenhall or Brandon Guyer return from injury. One could even make the argument that Allen is more valuable to the franchise over any of those three, being that he is a switch hitter with the ability to provide plus defense in center and right field. There is no need to platoon Allen, and his defense has picked up with his bat over the course of his time with the team. The smart move for this front office is to keep Allen with the club, as any gains you get from adding Zimmer would be mitigated by sending Allen to Columbus. Now let’s just hope the front office makes the right decision as well.