What Is Eddie Rosario Worth?
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsIf it truly is a foregone conclusion that Rosario won’t be apart of the Twins next season, what is the team waiting for? We saw some other arbitration-eligible players get designated for assignment Friday, including Hunter Renfroe of Tampa Bay and Renato Nunez of Baltimore. It’s fair to note, however, both those teams filled up their rosters and needed to clear some space, unlike the Twins who still have three open spots.
Nobody’s quite sure how things are going to play out in the arbitration process since this 60-game season complicates things. MLB Trade Rumors has three different projection models. The lowest has Rosie projected at $8.6 million, the middle at $9.6 and the highest at $12.9 million. That’s essentially a range from “in the realm of possibility” to “completely insane.” Even the average of those three figures, $10.4 million, seems awfully high.
An x-factor in this discussion is what Rosario’s agency would project him to get on the open market, and how that may factor into this process.
Over the past two seasons, Rosario and Robbie Grossman have the exact same fWAR (2.1) and xwOBA (.327). Craig Edwards of FanGraphs predicted Grossman would get a one-year, $6 million contract this offseason. Many of the other metrics, and even the early 2021 projections, paint a much rosier picture (pun very much intended), but that comp could be enough reason for the Rosario camp to welcome contract discussions toward the low-end of his projected arbitration salary.
The tricky thing is the Twins won’t necessarily know what number Rosario’s agency plans on filing for at the time they’re required to make a decision to tender him a contract or not. If tendered a contract, he’s getting paid one way or another. Both sides would have until mid-January to negotiate a salary, but if they can’t they would go to a hearing. The team files at one number, the player another, and there is no middle ground. One side wins, one side loses.
It’s important to note that a player’s arbitration salary really has nothing to do with estimating his value on the open market. Instead, everything is based on precedent. The people on these arbitration panels aren’t baseball analysts or anything like that, these are judges and other non-baseball people. Counting stats weigh heavily in determining a player’s value, which is good news for Rosario.
Rosario has 5.120 years of service time. A comp I found for him at a similar time was Corey Dickerson, who avoided a hearing by agreeing to an $8.5 million salary in his final year of arbitration eligibility prior to the 2019 season. Dickerson had much better rate stats (.824 OPS vs. .788), but Rosario has him beat in counting stats. Rosario has the advantage over Dickerson by 16 homers, 77 RBIs, 58 runs, 41 hits and 51 total bases over their respective six-year stretches. Still, I’d say that’s pretty darn close considering the window we’re looking at.
If we want to find a comp in an instance that went to a hearing, take a look at Joc Pederson. Entering this season, he filed for $9.5 million, but the Dodgers beat him in the hearing with their mark of $7.75 million.
Pre-2020 Pederson holds the advantage in OPS over present-day Rosario .813 to .788, and Joc even had four more homers then than Eddie does now. Everything else trends strongly toward Rosie, however, as he has Pederson beat in RBIs by 101, runs by 76, hits by 265 and total bases by 309. That’s the cost of being platooned.
Either way, I still find it very difficult to imagine Rosario’s team building a case for him anywhere near that high-end projection of $12.9 million.
Circling back to Grossman, he agreed to a meager $3.275 million salary in his final season of arbitration eligibility last year. Gotta hit tanks to make bank, kids.
I still doubt the Twins will tender Rosario a contract if it comes down to Dec. 2. I do think, however, there is a potential avenue for these two sides to reach an agreement between now and then.
What is the magic number? There has to be a point at which the Twins have interest in retaining Rosario on a one-year contract. It's most definitely not $12.9 million, or even $10.4 million. It probably isn't even $9.6 million.
Is it crazy to think Rosario would be open to coming back at $8 million?
I don’t see much incentive for Rosario to want to hit the open market. Bringing him back would give the Twins additional certainty and some leverage as it relates to Nelson Cruz. They could just move on from Cruz altogether. Yes, there are still internal corner outfield options waiting for opportunities, but they’re mostly unproven. The Twins could always use one of them as a trade chip to acquire an established arm, building even more certainty into the 2021 roster.
The smart bet is most definitely on this ending in Eddie Rosario being non-tendered. Still, there are a lot of options on the table to explore between now and the Dec. 2 deadline. This isn’t simply a decision between offering Rosario $10.4 million or cutting him loose.
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