Twins Daily: Is Eddie Rosario facing a make-or-break year with the Twins?

Twins Daily's Cody Christie digs into what lies in waiting for Rosario.
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Eddie Rosario

Last week, the Twins agreed to terms with Eddie Rosario on a one year $7.75 million contract in his second year of being arbitration eligible. He was one of five Twins players to accumulate more than 30 home runs last season, but it might be getting to the point where his on-field value doesn’t match the money the Twins are paying him.

According to FanGraphs, Eddie Rosario has provided the Twins $83.7 million worth of value over the course of his five big league seasons. His best season was 2018 when he accumulated a 3.5 WAR and FanGraphs valued him at $27.6 million. He was worth $20.6 million in 2017 and $19.6 million in 2015, his rookie season. These are some great seasons, especially since the Twins have only paid him $5.89 million throughout his career.

Last season was Rosario’s least valuable season besides the 2016 campaign where he was limited to 92 games. He set career highs in home runs and RBI while having less than 90 strikeouts for the first time. Even with those positives, his defensive decline is drastically impacting his value to the Twins.

SABR’s Defensive Index ranked Rosario as the third worst AL left fielder last season with a -5.7 SDI. Only Seattle’s Domingo Santana and Boston’s Andrew Benintendi ranked lower than Rosario. Baseball Savant’s Outs Above Average, a newly released statistic, ranks Rosario even worse. Among the 92 qualified outfielders his -17 OAA is the lowest total by four outs.

Even with his positive offensive numbers, FanGraphs puts Rosario’s value at $9.3 million last season. He will cost the Twins nearly $8 million in 2020 and his salary would increase for 2021, his age-29 season. It could be getting to the point where Rosario’s on-field value doesn’t match the salary he is being paid. Minnesota’s front office is smart enough to look at his overall value and it could be in the best interest of the team to cut ties with Rosario.

Back in 2016, the Twins went through a similar situation with Trevor Plouffe. He was projected to earn $8.2 million in his final year of arbitration. Instead Minnesota cut ties with him, because the roster had other first base/DH options and Miguel Sano was ready to take over at third base. Plouffe had been limited to 84 games in 2016 and he would only play 107 more games at the big-league level.

To take the place of Rosario, the Twins could have other prospects waiting to take over a corner outfield spot. Players like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach could both be ready for a full-time role on the 2021 Twins. Each would be making the minimum salary and they could be able to provide more value without being as much of a defensive liability.

Rosario has provided some dramatic moments throughout his Twins tenure, but his days in a Twins uniform could be numbered. Do you think the Twins keep Rosario beyond the 2020 season?

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