Every team in Major League Baseball craves impact bats, yet Eddie Rosario remains a free agent for reasons known only to the sport’s 30 respective ballclubs: He’s an impact bat hiding in broad daylight.
The Minnesota Twins non-tendered Rosario in December, making him an outright free agent. In all likelihood, the lifelong Twin has played his final game for the organization. What are the Twins losing in the outfielder, and what is his future employer getting? They’re getting a reliable and productive everyday outfielder.
Across the last four seasons (1,873 at-bats) Rosario has totaled 96 home runs and 306 RBI while posting a combined .281 batting average, an .810 OPS, and a 114 OPS+. He’s a thumper from the left side. Rosario has a smooth, arcing, power swing that generates slug, and he puts the ball in play at a considerable rate. Rosario helped the Twins consistently boast one of the best offensive attacks in MLB.
Now, he did hit a career-worse .257 in the sport’s 60-game regular season. At the same time, he totaled 42 RBI, which had him on track to post a career high in said category. It was also just one season ago that Rosario totaled 32 home runs and 109 RBI.
By the way, Rosario is just 29. Age isn’t an issue; he’s in his prime.
George Springer was the best outfielder on the open market, and he cashed in on a six-year, $150 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Meanwhile, Michael Brantley re-signed with the Houston Astros on a two-year, $32 million deal, and Jackie Bradley Jr. remains a free agent. One would imagine Bradley, an elite fielder coming off an .814 OPS season, reels in more dough than Rosario.
Kyle Schwarber is an apt model for Rosario’s next contract, as he inked a one-year, $10 million deal with the Washington Nationals after being non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs earlier this offseason. If Rosario, whose offensive production is on par with Schwarber since 2015, gets the same deal as the former Cub, it’s a bargain for the team that signs him.
However, it’s interesting how Schwarber rakes in an eight-figure contract relatively quickly despite the ongoing criticism of his defense in left field, yet the market for Rosario seems to be moving at a snail’s pace. Maybe teams can get him for closer to five million? That would make securing Rosario’s services highway robbery.
What’s the better value: Springer’s $150 million deal or Rosario on a one-year, prove-it deal?
Let’s also keep in mind that momentum appears to be leaning in favor of the designated hitter returning to the National League for the 2021 MLB season. If teams feel Rosario is a liability in the field (he has posted a nine DRS in left field since 2015), he can be their fourth outfielder/designated hitter or simply start the season as the left fielder on a short leash. (This theoretically increases the interest of 15 teams.) Maybe a team experiments with Rosario at the other corner outfield position? Rosario has 54 career starts in right field and 39 starts in center under his belt.
A universal DH provides teams with more roster flexibility.
Given all the factors working against him, Rosario could fit in from a roster and financial standpoint with practically every team in the sport. Contenders like the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees could add him to be part of their outfield rotation and hit around their prolific hitters.
Young teams like the Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners could offer Rosario a starting position to both enhance their roster for the short term and help him beef up his free-agent value for next offseason.
Every year there are several players who get non-tendered, therefore becoming compelling commodities on the free-agent market. Last offseason Cesar Hernandez, Kevin Gausman, and Blake Treinen were given the boot and found success in their new homes.
Hernandez hit .283 while serving as the Cleveland Indians starting second baseman last season; Gausman got his career back on track in the San Francisco Giants starting rotation; Treinen was a steady force out of the World Series-champion Dodgers bullpen.
Rosario can be the next player to prove his former team wrong elsewhere.