Eddie Rosario had a busy year. In December of 2020, Rosario was cut loose by the Twins, an organization he had been a part of since being drafted in 2010. He found a second home in Cleveland for the start of the season, before a July 30th trade sent him to Atlanta, where he would become a postseason hero, NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP. Now, his busy 2021 ends where it started: free agency.
While October certainly gave Rosario a boost to his free agency, he enters an uncertain market. Over the last few Winters, a very clear pattern has emerged. While top free agents are still getting their money, the market has seemingly disappeared for players in the 1-2 WAR range, a mark that Rosario has failed to exceed since 2018. His performance in October should earn him some dollars, but it seems unlikely that a team will give him a contract expecting him to return to 2018 levels of production (4.3 bWAR, 116 OPS+).
As crucial as Rosario was to Atlanta’s World Series run, a return doesn’t seem particularly likely. Ronald Acuña Jr is expected back from his ACL tear. Adam Duvall is still arbitration eligible and under team control. These two are locks for Atlanta’s outfield, likely in right and center field respectively, leaving a hole in left field. Internally, Atlanta could look towards prospects Christian Pache or Drew Waters, who both seem ready for the big leagues. With both of them waiting in the wings, to either start or fill a fourth outfielder role, bringing back Rosario does not seem like a priority.
Rosario’s market is unclear and could be slow-moving. His defensive profile limits his options. Throughout his career, he has played nearly 85% of his games in left field, where he rated in the 29th percentile in outs above average in 2021. Now 30 years old, Rosario is strictly a corner outfielder, and most teams would likely be hesitant to play him anywhere but left.
The White Sox have been brought up frequently as potential suitors. They have a right-handed heavy lineup that would be complimented nicely by Rosario’s left-handed bat. With two other strong defenders in the outfield in Luis Robert and Adam Engel, Rosario’s defense shouldn’t be much of a factor at all.
If the Mets intend to contend in 2022, they should be making some phone calls to Rosario’s agent. If Michael Conforto is indeed leaving Queens, which seems likely, then they will need to replace him somehow. Rosario is a very similar player to Conforto. They are similarly-aged, left-handed-hitting, bat-first corner-outfielders. While Conforto is younger and a better hitter, Rosario will all but certainly come at a cheaper price.
Staying in the NL East, the Phillies seem to be another potential landing spot. Outside of NL MVP Bryce Harper, the 2022 Phillies outfield is wide open. On MLB.com’s depth chart, only Harper and Matt Vierling are listed under the outfield. Other internal options include Roman Quinn, Mickey Moniak, and Adam Haseley. If Philadelphia hopes to contend, this is certainly a group that needs to be added to.
Rosario is one of the more interesting options on the board. He played such a key role as one of the pieces that Atlanta used to reconstruct their outfield, and team, at the deadline en route to a World Series championship. While it’s difficult to say how much that performance increased his next paycheck, it certainly will add to the buzz and excitement of whatever fanbase welcomes him to their team for 2022.
Matt O’Halloran is a junior mathematics major at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He works in analytics with the school’s baseball program. He is a writer for Beyond the Box Score and an editor at Diamond Digest. He can be found on Twitter @matto20.