Chicago Cubs Claim Franmil Reyes Off Waivers From Cleveland Guardians

Franmil Reyes, former Cleveland Guardians designated hitter and part-time outfielder, was designated for assignment by the Guardians on August 6, 2022.

On Monday, August 8, the Chicago Cubs claimed Reyes off waivers.

The rapid decline of Reyes has puzzled baseball personnel and fans all season.

At 6-5, 265 pounds, the right-handed hitting Reyes is a huge physical presence.

Reyes was an international free-agent from the Dominican Republic, signed by the San Diego Padres November 1, 2011. He received a $700,000 signing bonus from San Diego.

After becoming a professional at the age of 16, it didn’t take very long for Reyes to establish his reputation as a slugger. He made a very loud statement in 2017. When he was just 21, Reyes hit 25 home runs at Double-A San Antonio in the Texas League. He drove in 102 runs and scored 79 runs in 566 plate appearances.

Following that outstanding power display, Reyes played for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League, where this scout was able to scout him in many of his 30 plate appearances. Among this writer’s observations were the following: “Huge physicality. Massive power potential. Not refined at all on defense. Projects as a designated hitter. Slow afoot. Could be a base clogger-but can’t deny the power.”

Reyes made his debut with San Diego in 2018, with 218 plate appearances at the big league level. He hit 16 homers as a rookie.

At the time of his big league arrival, the designated hitter was not an option in the National League. As a result, Reyes played right field for San Diego during the first half of 2019. His power was too great to deny. The Padres chose to live with his limited defensive ability.

Even though he was pounding the ball, the Padres included Reyes in a trade with the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline, July 31, 2019. Reyes was traded to Cleveland in a three-team deal. The Padres sent Reyes, along with infielder/outfielder Victor Nova and pitcher Logan Allen to Cleveland. Cleveland sent pitcher Trevor Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds. Cincinnati traded outfielder Taylor Trammell to the Padres. And finally, the Reds sent pitcher Scott Moss and outfielder Yasiel Puig to the Indians.

Reyes would continue his career with the Cleveland Indians, starting his American League tenure in the second half of 2019.

Reyes finished the 2019 season by assuming the role as Cleveland’s primary designated hitter. He finished 2019 with a combined 37 homers and 81 RBIs for San Diego and Cleveland in his 548 plate appearances.

Reyes firmly established himself in the designated hitter role in the pandemic shortened 2020 season with Cleveland, hitting nine homers in 241 plate appearances. He showed he could hit the long ball and hold his own against American League pitching.

Perhaps the highlight of Reyes’ time in the big leagues took place last season, in 2021.

Reyes hit 30 homers, drove in 85 runs and hit .254/.324/.522/.846 in 466 plate appearances. He had become a feared, middle-of-the-order slugger.

As the Cleveland Indians completed their transition to becoming the Cleveland Guardians, Reyes was viewed as a “centerpiece” of the batting order. He and slugging All Star third baseman Jose Ramirez were considered the two most formidable hitters on what would become the youngest team in baseball.

Prior to spring training this year, Reyes was scheduled to play Winter Ball in his native Dominican Republic for Escogido BC. He was supposed to play some games in right field to improve as an outfielder. In addition, part of his motivation was to be able to play with slugger Albert Pujols, who would have been his teammate. Reyes did not play in the league. He did not play at all this past winter.

As the 2022 Championship Season began, Reyes didn’t look like the same hitter as last season. Right from the beginning, his 2022 season was a nightmare. He had lost the swing and the hitting mechanics that brought him great American League, and Cleveland Indians success.

To this scout, it was obvious Reyes was having trouble seeing and identifying the type of pitch out of the hand of the pitcher. He was late on fastballs. He would flail wildly at sliders and curves out of the strike zone. Pitchers began to pitch him up in the strike zone, and he would routinely swing and miss. The pitcher would get ahead in the count and throw a slider well outside, and Reyes would miss the pitch. He had trouble catching up with fastballs.

In May this year, Reyes was placed on the Injured List with right hamstring tightness. At the time he was disabled, Reyes was hitting .195 with three home runs, two doubles and 12 RBI. He had struck out 57 times in his 35 games. He was not the Reyes Cleveland had counted upon.

It was hoped that when healthy, Reyes would return to Cleveland’s lineup and rediscover his swing and hitting mechanics.

When he re-entered the Guardians lineup June 21, little had changed. He was still missing pitches. He was still striking out. The power had seemingly disappeared.

Instead of driving the ball to his pull-side, Reyes was hitting soft line-drives to right field. He still seemed lost at the plate.

The Cleveland baseball administrators had seen enough.

Reyes played his last game for Cleveland August 1, 2022. He went hitless as a pinch-hitter in his only at-bat that game,

Using one of two minor league options Reyes had remaining, on August 2, Cleveland chose to option Reyes to Triple-A Columbus.

In a rather surprising move, the team chose to designate Reyes for assignment on August 6. As the trade deadline had passed, Cleveland would not be able to trade his contract. He would be available to be claimed off waivers by another team.

Two days after being designated for assignment, the Chicago Cubs claimed the contract of Franmil Reyes. They will assume the remainder of the one-year, $5.55M contract he signed for this year, his final season before he becomes a free-agent.


For those involved with the front office of the Cleveland Guardians, and for the team’s fan base, the sudden decline in offensive production from Franmil Reyes was difficult to watch.

A player who smoked 30 home runs last season showed no resemblance this year to the hitter that brought legitimate fear to opposing pitchers.

It is likely the decision to option Reyes and then designate him for assignment was not easy for the Cleveland Guardians. But to their credit, the Guardians front office chose to continue their plan of offering opportunities to young players who they feel have completed their development.

Now it will be the Chicago Cubs who will try to rejuvenate the career of Franmil Reyes.

For Cleveland fans, they are probably very happy Reyes was signed by a team in the National League.

It is very possible Reyes can once again find the swing and hitting mechanics that can return him to being the consequential power hitter he displayed with the Cleveland Indians in 2021.