Last December, the Twins had a tough decision to make about offering a contract to Eddie Rosario. He was heading to his final year of arbitration eligibility, and he was expected to cost around $12 million in arbitration. To put that in perspective, Rosario was coming off a season where FanGraphs had him pegged at providing $7.7 million worth of value to the Twins. The front office used the money not spent on Rosario to sign 40% of the team's starting rotation.
Minnesota also had other options for filling corner outfield spots. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were both expected to make their regular season debuts in 2021, and they were scheduled to cost significantly less than Rosario. Each had the potential to provide equal or more value than Rosario during the 2021 season, so this made it easier to make their Rosario decision. He was designated for assignment and no other teams put a claim on him.
Rosario eventually signed with Cleveland at the end of January for $8 million. He played in 78 games and hit .254/.296/.389 (.686) with 23 extra-base hits. Among AL outfielders with 300 plate appearances, he ranked in the bottom eight in wRC and wOBA. His 86 OPS+ was five points fewer than his previous career low. At the trade deadline, Rosario was traded to Atlanta for Pablo Sandoval, who Cleveland immediately cut.
The Braves added multiple outfielders at the deadline to try and make up for the loss of Ronald Acuna Jr. Rosario found his swing again with the Braves as the club was fighting for a playoff spot. In 33 games, he hit .271/.330/.573 (.903), which raised his OPS+ by 45 points compared to his time in Cleveland. He hit seven home runs in fewer than 100 at-bats which were as many home runs as he had in over 280 at-bats before the trade.
Fans may be excited by Rosario contributing to a team having postseason success, but the front office still made the right decision when it came to tendering him a contract. He was still a well below-average player for a majority of the season in Cleveland. As Twins fans recall, Rosario is a very streaky hitter, and he happens to be in the midst of one of his hot streaks at the season’s most impactful time of the year.
Rosario will hit the free-agent market again this winter, and his market will largely remain unchanged. He makes poor baserunning mistakes and plays below-average defense. His offense also doesn’t make up for his other deficiencies. Rosario can undoubtedly be exciting, but Minnesota made the right decision in the short and long term.
What are your thoughts on Rosario’s playoff performance so far? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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