CLEVELAND, Ohio — There goes the Franmil Reyes’ bobblehead night.
On Sept. 3 fans attending the Guardians game at Progressive Field against Seattle were going to receive a bobblehead of their favorite power-hitting DH. But things change fast in baseball.
On Tuesday the slumping Reyes was optioned to Class AAA Columbus. On Saturday he was designated for assignment and Monday he was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. They will be responsible for the $1.5 million left on his $4.55 million contract.
Manager Terry Francona, in talking about Reyes and Bobby Bradley, who was released from Columbus on Saturday, said opportunities must be seized when they present themselves. If not, a prospect can become a suspect in short order.
When the 2022 season opened, Reyes was the Guardians’ cleanup hitter and Bradley was playing first base and hitting fifth.
Regarding Reyes’ bobblehead, the Guardians said as long as he was still a member of the organization, his bobblehead night would have taken place. If Reyes had cleared waivers, he would have been outrighted to Columbus. That would have kept his bobblehead night in play. Now it’s in limbo.
Reyes was supposed to hit 30-40 homers and drive in 100 runs this season. He was hitting behind rabbits such as Steven Kwan, Myles Straw and Amed Rosario. Not to mention MVP candidate José Ramírez.
But the number never materialized for the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Reyes, who hit 30 homers and drove in 85 runs last year.
The club questioned his conditioning when he came to spring training following the lockout and it didn’t seem to improve. He went on the disabled list in May with a right hamstring injury, but never was able to find his swing after reappearing in the big league lineup on June 21.
“It’s difficult when you know a guy can get hot and carry a team,” said Francona on Saturday. “His swing and miss comes with the territory. But he wasn’t getting to the fastball and he was hitting the hanging breaking ball for a single and an occasional home run. He just wasn’t getting to pitches that he used to.”
Reyes was hitting .213 (56-for-263) with nine homers and 28 RBI in 70 games when he was optioned to Columbus on Tuesday just after the G’s failed to trade him by the 6 p.m. deadline. Forty percent of his at-bats (104-for-263) ended in strikeouts.
The Guardians were not able to trade Reyes after they designated him for assignment because he was on a big league contract, which cannot be traded after the deadline.
Cubs first-year GM Carter Hawkins is familiar with Reyes. He spent several years in Cleveland’s front office.
Cleveland acquired Reyes on July 31, 2019, in a three-team trade with San Diego and Cincinnati. Along with Reyes, they received left-hander Logan Allen and infielder Victor Nova from the Padres. In the other part of the deal, they sent right-hander Trevor Bauer to the Reds for outfielder Yasiel Puig and left-hander Scott Moss. The Reds also sent outfielder Taylor Trammel to the Padres.
Reyes was the last player in that trade still in the Cleveland organization.
Initially it looked like Reyes was going to be the power-hitting right-handed bat the Guardians have been searching for since the days of Manny Ramirez. His combined line for 2019 was .249 (123-for-494) with 19 doubles, 37 homers and 81 RBI.
Reyes hit .275 (58-for-211) with nine homers and 34 RBI in the pandemic season of 2020, followed by his strong showing in 2021.
The Cubs will have two years of control over Reyes, 27, while the Guardians clear the way for what they hope will be a steady stream of young run producers. Rookie outfielders Oscar Gonzalez, Nolan Jones and Will Benson are already in the big leagues. Prospect George Valera was just promoted from Class AA to Columbus on Monday.
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