Eddie Rosario Seems Destined for Early Free Agency
The Minnesota Twins have a lot of decisions to make as they navigate through the 2020 MLB offseason. They have only $60 million dedicated to the 2021 roster so far, prior to signing any pending free agents (like Nelson Cruz) or players on roster who are arbitration-eligible. Eddie Rosario falls under the “arbitration eligible” umbrella for 2021 but it will be his last.
Rosario will qualify for free agency after the 2021 season and that’s why you see a much higher projected value compared to other arbitration-eligible players on-roster.
— Ted (@tlschwerz) October 15, 2020
There are three basic tiers of MLB contracts. Pre-arbitration (first 3 years), arbitration eligible (years 4-6) and free agency eligible (after year 6). MLB pre-arbitration is comparable to rookie contracts in other sports but “arbitration-eligible” contracts are pretty unique to the MLB.
Major League Baseball players are NOT eligible for free agency until they have 6 full seasons of MLB service time. In years 4-6, players have the option of taking their team to “arbitration” if they don’t feel they are being offered a fair contract. If the two parties can’t come together, a neutral arbitrator decides what the player is worth for that season (read more here).
Essentially: BETTER STATS + MORE SERVICE TIME = MORE $$$
Rosario is heading into his 3rd and final season of arbitration and he’s posted consistently impressive career-numbers in those first five years of MLB service time. Because of that, he’s going to be expensive if the Twins want him on their roster for 2021. The numbers Ted Schwerzler (TwinsDaily.com) posted above are only part of the story; the “high-water mark” during contract negotiations, so to speak.
**Because 2020 was only 60 games long, arbitration salaries are more difficult to project for 2021. To cast a wide net, MLB Trade Rumors (which has projected arbitration salaries for 10+ years) has come up with three ways in which teams, agents and mediators will determine fair arbitration salaries for next season. (See Full explanation here)
- method 1: Applies model directly with actual statistics from this 60-game season
- method 2: Extrapolates all counting stats to would-be 162-game totals. One home run becomes 2.7 home runs.
- method 3: For non-first-time eligibles, finds the raise they’d get in a 162 game season, then gives them 37% of that raise
We don’t know what arbitration will bring for any of these guys and that’s why MLB Trade Rumors has to use three different projections. The projections do give us a very good idea of what we can expect, however, and the $10M-ish salary that Rosario will command for 2021, makes it unlikely he plays in a Minnesota Twins uniform.
Is Eddie Rosario Worth $10M/Yr?
Eddie Rosario has often been described as “inconsistent” by Twins’ analysts, writers and fans alike. He’s streaky at the plate, nerve-racking in the field and unpredictable on the base paths. When looking at his contributions from year-to-year, however, Eddie is a model picture of consistency. This is part of what’s driving his arbitration price up. Look at his last 4 seasons to see for yourself.
|Eddie Rosario (Last 4 Seasons)||BA||OPS||HR||RBI||SO||BB|
|2020 (60 gms)||.257||.792||13||42||34||19|
|Total (*per 162)||.281||.810||*33||*103||*111||*36|
Looking at these, numbers, it’s easy to see how Rosario could demand so much money in his final year of arbitration. Teams will pay a premium for outfielders who hit .281 with a 800+ OPS and project for 33 homers and 103 runs driven in over 162 games.
Eddie deserves his big arbitration payday and with a big 2020, he’ll garner even more cash going forward. That doesn’t mean the Twins should be the team who writes his checks anymore, however.
Other Options Are Too Good and Too Cheap
Minnesota has a wealth of corner outfield prospects, in Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Brent Rooker, all of which are ready to make their MLB breakthroughs. Over the last two seasons, Falvine has had multiple opportunities to trade those future outfield assets to assist in late-season runs and to help in other areas of need, but they haven’t pulled the trigger.
If Falvine believes the Twins outfield can be just as productive (or even close to it) with younger and cheaper talent, they are going to roll with the younger and cheaper talent.
Here are the splits of Kirilloff, Larnach and Rooker at the minor league levels.
|Player/MiLB Stats||Age||BA||OBP||OPS||MiLB Rank|
Unfortunately, the only thing we’ll have to remember Eddie Rosario by, are the memories he left. It’s highly unlikely that the Minnesota Twins find a trade partner for Rosario, because of his price tag. Just like the Twins, it’s unlikely another team is going to be interested in giving up a relevant piece of their farm system for a $10M outfielder who is only guaranteed to stick around for one season.
At the end of the day, Eddie Rosario’s grow on trees outside of our farm system, too. Potential trade partners are going to know the Twins’ situation and they aren’t going to chuck prospects our way, to get Rosario on their squad. He isn’t the elite-type talent teams fall head-over-heels for.
Eddie Rosario’s offseason is most likely to end as a non-tendered free agent, meaning the Twins will send him off into free agency a year early, instead of offering him a contract for his last year of team control.
While he was often a pain in the ass, there have been a lot more great Eddie Rosario moments as a Minnesota Twin than there were upsetting ones. It’s too bad we’ll lose him for nothing, too… but having young budding prospects, who are ready to contribute in the big leagues, is a good thing.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan