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Is Eddie Rosario Facing a Make-or-Break Year With the Twins?

Last week, the Twins agreed to terms with Eddie Rosario on a one year $7.75 million contract in his second year of being arbitration eligible. He was one of five Twins players to accumulate more than 30 home runs last season, but it might be getting to the point where his on-field value doesn’t match the money the Twins are paying him.
Image courtesy of © Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
According to FanGraphs, Eddie Rosario has provided the Twins $83.7 million worth of value over the course of his five big league seasons. His best season was 2018 when he accumulated a 3.5 WAR and FanGraphs valued him at $27.6 million. He was worth $20.6 million in 2017 and $19.6 million in 2015, his rookie season. These are some great seasons, especially since the Twins have only paid him $5.89 million throughout his career.

Last season was Rosario’s least valuable season besides the 2016 campaign where he was limited to 92 games. He set career highs in home runs and RBI while having less than 90 strikeouts for the first time. Even with those positives, his defensive decline is drastically impacting his value to the Twins.

SABR’s Defensive Index ranked Rosario as the third worst AL left fielder last season with a -5.7 SDI. Only Seattle’s Domingo Santana and Boston’s Andrew Benintendi ranked lower than Rosario. Baseball Savant’s Outs Above Average, a newly released statistic, ranks Rosario even worse. Among the 92 qualified outfielders his -17 OAA is the lowest total by four outs.

Even with his positive offensive numbers, FanGraphs puts Rosario’s value at $9.3 million last season. He will cost the Twins nearly $8 million in 2020 and his salary would increase for 2021, his age-29 season. It could be getting to the point where Rosario’s on-field value doesn’t match the salary he is being paid. Minnesota’s front office is smart enough to look at his overall value and it could be in the best interest of the team to cut ties with Rosario.

Back in 2016, the Twins went through a similar situation with Trevor Plouffe. He was projected to earn $8.2 million in his final year of arbitration. Instead Minnesota cut ties with him, because the roster had other first base/DH options and Miguel Sano was ready to take over at third base. Plouffe had been limited to 84 games in 2016 and he would only play 107 more games at the big-league level.

To take the place of Rosario, the Twins could have other prospects waiting to take over a corner outfield spot. Players like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach could both be ready for a full-time role on the 2021 Twins. Each would be making the minimum salary and they could be able to provide more value without being as much of a defensive liability.

Rosario has provided some dramatic moments throughout his Twins tenure, but his days in a Twins uniform could be numbered. Do you think the Twins keep Rosario beyond the 2020 season?

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  • mikelink45, dbminn, nclahammer and 1 other like this

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While I think Eddie does need to work on his defense a bit in spring training, I think some of these metrics can be a little misleading at times. Benintendi was one of the best left fielders in 2018 for crying out loud. I’ve seen this team play Deleon Young, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer in the corner outfield spots. I’ve seen Kepler being called below average in the field by the stats as well. On defense, I think the eye test is more important than computer statistics.
    • mikelink45, rdehring and Crackedfungo like this

I think Rosario played hurt most of last year.He was not even making his over aggressive base running mistakes. He was not playing defense nearly as well as he had. He was still hitting so he continued to play through it. I think this year if healthy he goes back to .290 Average with .320 OBP with his usual power. I think a healthy Eddie is well worth 10 million. Comparing him to Trevor Plouffe is a low blow.

    • SwainZag, Dman, KGB and 5 others like this

I suspect Rosario's time with the Twins is nearing an end, I'm actually a bit surprised he hasn't been traded already. With Cave being a capable placeholder and a pretty good chance at least one of Kirilloff/Larnach will be ready by mid-season, there isn't much reason not to explore moving Eddie. 

    • TopGunn#22 likes this

I think Rosario played hurt most of last year. He was not even making his over aggressive base running mistakes. He was not playing defense nearly as well as he had. He was still hitting so he continued to play through it. I think this year if healthy he goes back to .290 Average with .320 OBP with his usual power. I think a healthy Eddie is well worth 10 million. Comparing him to Trevor Plouffe is a low blow.

Be careful. You are not allowed to be an Eddie fan on this site. Are never allowed to say anything good about him!! Such a joke
    • Blackjack, mikelink45 and rdehring like this
Buddy Holly
Jan 20 2020 10:50 PM

We continue to believe on this site, that all the "Pie in the Sky" players in the minors are going to be able to replace Rosario. He may have had a down year defensively playing hurt. But I'll role with Eddie in left for a few more years. Byron Buxton is a great fielder but never plays much. I don't see any articles on releasing him? If the Twins can sign Rosario for 8-10 million a year for next 4 years he is worth it. He hits and he is the straw that stirs the drink on this team. People get excited when Eddie is at the plate because he is exciting to watch.All these guys in the minors are worth more in a trade than Rosario will ever be at this point. Trade them before they are exposed. 

    • nokomismod, mikelink45, rdehring and 3 others like this
Ben Derflott
Jan 20 2020 11:00 PM


I suspect Rosario's time with the Twins is nearing an end, I'm actually a bit surprised he hasn't been traded already. With Cave being a capable placeholder and a pretty good chance at least one of Kirilloff/Larnach will be ready by mid-season, there isn't much reason not to explore moving Eddie. 

"Jake Cave" and "capable placeholder" are words that should not ever be placed in the same sentence, unless the words "is not and will never be a" are placed between them.

    • nokomismod, TopGunn#22, mikelink45 and 6 others like this
Name a team that wouldn't trade a $7.5M contract for 30 BIG FLYS?
Diesel... I think the eye test is ALWAYS more important than statistics. Maybe that's why I'm sitting in the recliner.

I am one of Eddie's biggest supporters and I hope he takes some steps forward and improves defensively this year.Right now the Minnesota Twins have no one to replace his 30+ HRs and 100+ RBI in the minor leagues, so I don't think he's going anywhere for 2020.Beyond that, we'll have to see how much Larnach, Rooker, and Kirilloff are able to force the issue with their improved play.

    • Dman, South Dakota Tom, wabene and 1 other like this
Jan 21 2020 06:37 AM

Rosie is definitely a year to year guy. A lot will depend on how Kirilloff and Larnach progress in the minors. I woudln't be surprised if Eddie stays for another year, but I don't see him getting a long term deal here. 

    • USAFChief, Twins33, TopGunn#22 and 2 others like this
Doctor Gast
Jan 21 2020 06:45 AM

I`ve always been skeptical of Rosario`s nonchalant sloppy def. Last year was worse maybe because he was hurt. Hopefully this year he`ll be healthier & more humble so he could be more serious out there. 1 of the best defensive plays last year was when Rosario gun down Cleveland at the plate to save a game winning score, that was amazing. Who knows what would happened if that didn`t happen. He has a cannon of an arm you can`t deny. He could become year to year if he gets worse OFF & DEF. If his bat stays hot he could be used as DH when the time comes. I believe this site is for discussion not just let`s bash Rosario

Jan 21 2020 08:07 AM
The dude hits 30+bombas and 100+ RBI yet we are questioning his status due to shaky defensive metrics? Sometimes a situation can get over analyzed and new information can blind us from long standing truths that still have some merit.
    • mikelink45, DocBauer, Sam Morley and 1 other like this

I don't think the Twins keep Eddie beyond 2020 because of Larnach and Kirilloff.Only one needs to be ready by 2021. That said, the Twins need a healthy Rosario this year. 


Word is that Rosario had a bad ankle in 2019. Probably so, since his statcast speed data shows a full ft/sec drop - not normal for a 27-yr old. As a result, he dropped about 0.8 WAR just on baserunning between 2018 and 2019.


With health, I expect his defense to be a bit better in 2020 too. His glovework has never been great, so I don't expect his upside to be more than an average OF. (Note: baseball savant OAA doesn't include "arm". He has saved between 5-7 runs per year with his arm, according to DRS). 


Even with improvement, I don't think the Twins will want his salary on the books in 2021. And with a better 2020, he'll become a viable trade chip for a SP in the offseason.

    • TopGunn#22 and wabene like this
Jan 21 2020 08:35 AM
There are lies, damn lies, and defensive metrics.
    • USAFChief and PDX Twin like this

Kiriloff & Larnach will push Eddie out.There's a small chance it happens mid-late this season.An even greater chance it happens for 2021.Those 2 young guys can HIT, they are younger, cheaper, faster, etc...Enjoy Eddie this year, as i will.But when Kiriloff takes his spot in the lineup, take note, it will be fun.

    • RaoulDuke likes this
Jan 21 2020 08:54 AM
I don’t believe in counting minor league chickens until they hatch in the majors. Eddie’s year was an odd one, undervalued given his defense and the fact that he was only one of many bombas. But he’s a major league talent, not a prospect. This year will tell the tale; if the team contends, he’ll be a factor. If not, and he plays up to speed, he’ll have real trade value and it’ll be time to cash in. I’m spoiled: I moved to Minnesota in 1985 and saw two world championships in seven years. It’s fun. I want the youngsters among us to experience that kind of run. This could be one of those years and we need Eddie until we don’t.
    • South Dakota Tom, howieramone2, rdehring and 1 other like this


Name a team that wouldn't trade a $7.5M contract for 30 BIG FLYS?

Seeing as to how Eddie is still a Twin, I could name 29 other teams that wouldn't trade for him.


There is no reason at all to trade Eddie away for nothing and the Twins are very aware of this. I think a lot of frustration regarding his performance last year can be alleviated this year by dropping him from 4th in the order to 7th or so, and the Donaldson signing should allow for this.


The best course of action for the Twins is probably just to let this year play out with Eddie as the every day LF, and reassess his value at the end of the season. If he really was injured for most of last season I think we could assume some positive regression this year. Hopefully Kirilloff or Larnach get some MLB reps this season to make the decision more obvious going into 2021.

Jan 21 2020 09:10 AM
Eddie is a great spot. He’s still in his prime. Probably hitting 6-7-8 in a stacked lineup. If he produces his usual stats he will make even more money in 2021. But it won’t be with the Twins. Just hard to see the front office giving him a 3 or 4 year deal to keep him around with all the other possible options in the upper levels of the farm system.

Still my favorite Twin and has been since that summer long ago when he and Sano went down to the last few games of the year battling for the Appy League home run championship...Eddie won by one.


No question in my mind that he played hurt part of last year and 2018.Also the main example that causes me to question defensive stats.I see a player that when healty does so much in left field to save runs.When healthy, is one of the best at cutting off balls headed for the corner and holding the batter to a single.Yes, he makes boneheaded plays in left, on the bases and at the plate.But for every play that has everyone scratching their head, he makes a play that you just say Wow!Add that he is the heart and soul of this team and you have someone I want to see in a Twins uniform for years.

    • DocBauer, wabene and Crackedfungo like this

I like Rosie on this team. He provides other benefits besides his numbers. 

No question his defense is not elite, but saying that Kiriloff is better defensively or faster is flat out not true. Kiriloff is slow and not good in left, which is why he played a lot of first base last season. 


Trevor Larnach's swing actually reminds me a lot of Rosie, but Larnach is more selective at the plate and takes walks. Larnach is also average to above average in right field.


Cave and Rosario have very similar trade value to another team because Cave is younger, cheaper and has more years of control, plus he can play center in a pinch. If a team is asking about Rosario, I would ask them if they want Cave instead. Pick one. 

    • nokomismod likes this

Good teams often led players go after team control expires. It's one of the most difficult parts of maintaining a successful roster. When the current core hits that point, they can only afford to keep maybe half. 


I would let a quality corner OF go into free agency almost every time. Production is easier to replace at that position.


Of course, I also think Eddie's personality is a big part of this team. But we have 1-2 years to figure that out.

    • dbminn and wabene like this

I feel he will not be with the club after this year.Too much money and 2 or 3 cheap options in the minors.This is a business, and while his trade value is not high, he and a prospect could fetch a decent pitcher. 

I like Eddie, but the Twins are correct to go year to year on him. The defense is a real concern (hopefully his defensive decline was health-related and he's at full strength again but you never know) because his range has really dropped, he's been taking increasing numbers of bad routes and just dropping some balls that you think are in his glove. His arm is still plus, but in LF it just doesn't play as much and he's negated some of that value by airmailing it over his cutoff man.


The bigger concern is his plate discipline. That .300 OBP really hurts his value as a hitter and his refusal to take a walk is just not great. I get that he's a streak hitter and when he's going no one can get him out it seems like...but those runs where he's not squaring up on the ball? when he's swinging at pitches off the plate by 2 feet or balls that bounce in front of him or are up at his eyes? Yikes. 


He's still a good player. But is he going to be worth $10M in 2021? Hard to say that he will if his D doesn't bounce back or his plate discipline stays awful. 30 hrs are nice, but he's on a 3-year decline in OPS+, which really does measure offense pretty well. (119, 116, 106, in case you were wondering) His BBs are on a 3 year decline as well.


I think if his overall production slides again, he's going the way of Plouffe. I think if it stays exactly the same as last year it's a coin flip, but they probably keep him unless Kirilloff or Larnach is hitting so much that you just can't keep them down any longer (and they might have to had shown something in an MLB stint too). If the D & OBP kick back up to 2018 levels he's back 100%.


I like Eddie Rosario. When he's cooking there's no player more fun to watch (except Buxton). We ignore the defensive foibles, overlook the crazy decisions on the basepaths, and it doesn't matter if he swings at a pitch near his eyes, because it'll get smacked to the wall. But when he's slumping, he turns into a complete mess at the plate and every other problem gets magnified.

    • Dman, chpettit19 and wabene like this

I have enjoyed Eddie and figure that if there was trade demand he would go, like any player, if the offer is good enough.But if the theories about Eddie being gone in a year or two are correct than I say replace Cave with the player we think will take that spot.Put Larnach or Kiriloff in the 4th OF spot. Season them in MLB, let them step in for rest or injury.Having Cave play when we do not see him as the final solution makes no sense to me.



    • SQUIRREL, Sam Morley and wabene like this

Eddie started the year almost making it to the all star game but he wasn't the same player after he injured his ankle.That injury likely did impact his offense and defense some but hard to know how much.The question is, is Rosario an All Star or a good but flawed player.I don't think he has answered that question just yet.

The thing is we only have the data we have and right now Jake Cave (in a SSS) had a better OPS than Rosario last year.So overall he appears to be just as good as Rosario with the bat and probably better in the field.Granted Cave's slugging isn't as good as Rosario and you might have to give up close to ten HR's per year given Caves production thus far but you would also be getting a player that doesn't swing at pitches a mile outside and walks at more then double the rate Rosario does.Caves value lies in walks and Rosario's weakness is a lack of walks.Believe it or not outs matter in baseball they kill rally's in a hurry.Rosario's OBP is always low and that affects how productive he is.If he had eye even somewhat close to Arraez he would be a perenial All Star but alas his swing at everything approach has him falling short.

If Jake Cave can be as productive Rosario for a fraction of the cost why hang onto Rosario that is the question people are asking.Not to mention our two best hitters in the minors can play his position and might be ready for MLB as early as this year.Eddie has always been a good player and a fan favorite I think primarily because he is not afraid of big moments and likes to try and rise to the occassion and sometimes does. If Rosario has an All Star season no question the Twins do their best to hang onto him, but like the OP said he needs to be better by a decent margin to hold onto his spot as there are players nipping at his heals who can be close to as productive for a lot less money.Money that can go to spots we don't have good substitutes for.

    • DocBauer likes this

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