By Alec Walt
The non-tender deadline has passed and 57 MLB players have entered free agency. Among the most surprising non-tenders is former Minnesota Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario. The Boston Red Sox enter 2021 with an open spot in the outfield, and Rosario is someone they should target.
The Twins placed Rosario on outright waivers before the non-tender deadline earlier this week. With an expected pay bump from his $7.75 million salary in 2020, Rosario cleared waivers before being officially non-tendered. Twins expect top outfield prospect Alex Kiriloff to play left field next season alongside Byron Buxton and Max Kepler. This also gives them some salary relief to possibly re-sign DH Nelson Cruz.
Last season Rosario hit .257 with 13 home runs and 42 RBI’s. It’s the lowest batting average of his career, but he was on pace for his second consecutive season hitting 100 RBI’s. He’s a proven bat and would be a nice complement to an already deep lineup.
MLB’s Jon Morosi reported the Red Sox already have interest in Rosario. Morosi also noted right field, which is not the position Rosario would play if he signed with the Red Sox.
Sources: #RedSox have some interest in the non-tendered Eddie Rosario, although he likely would need to handle Fenway’s difficult RF. Alex Cora, as GM, selected Rosario for Team Puerto Rico at the 2017 @WBCBaseball.
Yes, I’ve turned a Hot Stove update into a WBC note. 😉 @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 3, 2020
Even though 2020 was a tough season in Beantown, one major bright spot was outfielder Alex Verdugo. He became a consistent presence at the top of the lineup and looked more comfortable in right field as the season progressed. There’s no need to move him from right. The outfielder that’d move to center in place of Jackie Bradley Jr. is Andrew Benintendi.
Benintendi played center field for the University of Arkansas before he was drafted seventh overall by the Red Sox in the 2015 MLB Draft. The Red Sox moved him to left field when Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts locked in the center and right field spots. With Betts on the Dodgers and Bradley Jr. on the free agent market, the Red Sox could explore changing his position. He’s been nominated for multiple Gold Gloves already in his career.
Even though he’s received nominations, it did not come in the last two seasons. Benintendi finished with a -2 Defensive Runs Saved in left field 2019-20. At 26 years old and only one poor stretch in his career, there’s still potential he can turn things around defensively. Red Sox GM Brian O’Halloran mentioned in a press conference that nothing can be ruled out for how they position the outfield. He just needs to make sure he can stay healthy.
His 2020 season ended early with a rib injury and the 14 games were not impressive. He hit .103 with zero home runs. Benintendi hasn’t played since August 11th, he’s expected to be ready for Spring Training.
Benintendi enters 2021 looking for a major bounce back. Next season he enters his final year of arbitration before hitting free agency in 2023. We’ve seen nothing but regression the last three seasons, but hopefully the return of Alex Cora can bring the old Benintendi back.
Adding Rosario wouldn’t help the Red Sox defensively, but he’d bring real firepower to the middle of the lineup. Rosario proved the last few seasons he can produce in RBI situations. He posted 77 or more per season from 2017-2019 and reached 109 in ‘19. Hitting in the middle of this lineup would give them solid depth and protection behind Martinez. It also takes some of the offensive production off Andrew Benintendi. So, have fun pitching to the top six in this lineup. Bobby Dalbec and Christian Vazquez are also solid offensive players towards the bottom of the order.
After Rosario cleared waivers for just under $10 million, and he’s not expected to break the bank this offseason. Looking at the Red Sox, they’re not a team expected to spend big money. He’s also, as previously mentioned by Morosi, familiar with Alex Cora from the World Baseball Classic. There’s a lot to like here if you’re Chaim Bloom on a one-year contract.
Signing a talented outfielder for less than $10 million who’s familiar with the manager makes a lot of sense. The Red Sox have the depth already on the roster to place him in left field and position him in a lineup where he can knock in runs. All they’d need is a fourth outfielder who can also play center field.
Rosario and the Red Sox seem like a solid match. Bloom should capitalize on a free agent he didn’t expect to hit the open market.