The Cleveland Indians signed Twins free agent Eddie Rosario.
The Cleveland Indians will one-up their AL Central rivals, the Minnesota Twins, by signing free-agent slugger Eddie Rosario.
The initial report comes from MLB.com, and Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes confirmed that the Tribe got the deal done. Rosario signed for one-year at $8 million.
Rosario will instantly plug himself into the outfield while settling himself into the middle of Terry Francona’s lineup. He’s primarily played left field, but has logged innings here and there at center and in right field.
My guess is the Indians will keep him in left and move Josh Naylor around–perhaps to right field or first base. Look for long-time prospect Bobby Bradley to get a shot at first base, but Naylor is certainly another option.
Corner outfield had been one of the Indians biggest needs ever since Michael Brantley departed after the 2018 season. The Indians tried to fix the problem in-house, in addition to signing lottery tickets (Carlos Gonzalez, Domingo Santana).
However, in Rosario, Cleveland now has a bonafide slugger capable of hitting 25-30 homers in 2021. Rosario hit 32 in 2018 and 13 during last year’s truncated 60-game season.
To finish off the outfield, the Indians will give Oscar Mercado a chance at center field. Despite a terrific rookie campaign in 2019, Mercado really struggled in his sophomore effort. Perhaps the weirdness of 2020 could be an explanation as to his dramatic regression.
The Indians will also need to find out if Daniel Johnson can be a contributor at the big-league level. Platooning Johnson with Jordan Luplow could also be an option, although like Mercado, Luplow really played terribly last season.
Signing Rosario comes as a bit of surprise, as it was just last weekend that Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto made even entertaining the idea of signing Rosario a non-starter.
The Indians said they would re-invest some of the money saved in the Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco trade. They coughed up $5 million to re-sign Cesar Hernandez. It was expected that Rosario would cost around $8 million.
Signing Rosario doesn’t make up for losing Lindor, but make no mistake about it: The Indians are dramatically better after signing him than they were yesterday.
While there’s still a lot to work out in the batting order, Hernandez will bat lead off, while Jose Ramirez could hit third with Rosario batting clean-up.