Baseball

Guardians Nearing Extension With Trevor Stephan

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The Guardians have already agreed to one extension today, and they’re making progress on a deal with right-handed reliever Trevor Stephan as well, reports Tom Withers of the Associated Press. Cleveland currently controls the 27-year-old Stephan for another four seasons. He’s not scheduled to reach arbitration until next offseason. The Athletic’s Zack Meisel reported earlier today that Cleveland was in “advanced” extension talks with multiple players.

One of the most successful Rule 5 picks in recent memory, Stephan emerged for the Guardians as a high-caliber setup option this past season when he tossed 63 2/3 innings of 2.69 ERA ball. That mark was backed up by a 2.19 FIP and 2.55 SIERA. The former Yankees farmhand punched out a hefty 30.7% of his opponents against a tidy 6.7% walk rate and induced grounders at an above-average 48.1% clip.

Drilling down even further, there’s far more to like about Stephan. His 16.2% swinging-strike rate was the 14th-best mark among the 273 pitchers who tossed at least 60 innings in 2022 (starters and relievers alike). He was also better than average in terms of opponents’ exit velocity (87.5 mph average) and hard-hit rate (34.4%), and his 3.1% opponents’ barrel rate was among the very best in all of baseball (98th percentile).

Stephan averaged just under 97 mph with his heater, missed bats, limited walks and hard contact and kept the ball both in the park (0.42 HR/9) and on the ground last year. Along the way, he picked up 19 holds and three saves. He’s now expected to be among the top setup options for All-Star closer Emmanuel Clase, and Stephan would perhaps be first in line for ninth-inning work in the event of an injury to Clase.

More to come. 

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