Among all of the non-tenders we saw on Wednesday, one of the more surprising names was Eddie Rosario, who was also freely available on waivers before he was non-tendered. No one claimed him and the Twins did indeed non-tender him, so now the outfielder is among the many free agents still looking for a new club. Given the hole in the outfield for Boston after Jackie Bradley Jr.’s departure, Rosario seemed like a possibility to be a target for the team when he became available. According to a report from Jon Morosi, that is indeed exactly the case.
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.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 3, 2020
Yes, I’ve turned a Hot Stove update into a WBC note. @MLB
We’ll get to the defensive fit piece of this, because as Morosi alludes to in the tweet above that is a complication here. It’s worth mentioning first, though, that Rosario is a really solid offensive player. The former Twin has been consistently above-average for four years in a row, posting wRC+’s of 110, 103, 114, and 117, respectively, starting with 2020 and going back to 2017. And although that is certainly not superstar-level production, it is enough to have made him an above-average regular in three of the last four years by fWAR despite relatively shaky defense in left field. In fact, going back to 2017 Rosario has been as or more productive at the plate as guys like Kyle Schwarber, Wil Myers and Starling Marte, all other potential outfield targets.
So, offensively there is talent for Rosario. That said, as much as I like the player in a vacuum the fit with the Red Sox does get a bit tenuous. Even before getting to the defense, Rosario is a left-handed bat and would give the Red Sox an all-lefty outfield of him, Alex Verdugo and Andrew Benintendi. That alone wouldn’t be disqualifying for me, for whatever that’s worth, since Verdugo has shown himself to be more than capable of handling left-handed pitching and Rosario has been roughly average against them in recent years not counting the shortened 2020 season. It is a consideration that the team will be making, though.
To me, the bigger issue is what happens with the defense. I think it’s telling that Morosi mentions that Rosario would have to go to right field, which would indicate that the team may not be as keen on putting Benintendi in center field as we may have thought. My assumption would have been that a Rosario signing would push Benintendi to center with Rosario in right, but this report could indicate that if they don’t sign a center fielder it would be Verdugo moving over. One report doesn’t make that a matter of fact, of course, but it’s at least eye-opening.
That would make more sense to me as Verdugo is pretty clearly the better defensive player between him and Benintendi, but that opens up the hole in right field. And again, as Morosi alludes to right field at Fenway is not a normal right field. Rosario has graded out anywhere from average to terrible in left field in recent years depending on your metric of choice, and it’s really hard for me to see him playing well in right at Fenway. So while I like Rosario as a hitter and I think he’d clearly improve the lineup, the amount they’d be giving up defensively probably wouldn’t make this move worth it in my eyes. But alas, it is a situation to monitor at the very least.