Eddie Rosario’s 2021 season was one wild ride. In December 2020, Rosario was non-tendered by the Minnesota Twins and eventually landed with Cleveland in February 2021. After a rather pedestrian first half — Rosario slashed .254/.296/.389 with an 86 wRC+ in 78 games with Cleveland — he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Pablo Sandoval. He then promptly caught fire, slashing .271/.330/.573 with a 133 wRC+ in 33 games down the stretch. He continued that success into the postseason, where he slashed .383/.456/.617 with a 182 wRC+, en route to winning the NLCS MVP and, eventually, the World Series.
Now entering free agency at the age of 30 and riding the wave of the hottest stretch of his career, Rosario will certainly look to leverage his performance in his last 49 games when contract talks are allowed to resume once the lockout is ended. Should the Yankees give Rosario much of a look? In short, no. Longer answer below.
Since we all know free agency isn’t — or, at least shouldn’t be — decided by one stretch of a player’s career, let’s start with the career numbers. In seven seasons, Rosario has slashed .275/.309/.473 with 133 home runs, a 4.9 percent walk rate, an 18.5 percent strikeout rate, and a 105 wRC+. He has been worth 12.4 fWAR in that time. His most notable seasons happened in 2017 and 2018, when he slashed a combined .289/.326/.493 with 51 home runs, a 116 wRC+, and .345 wOBA. He was worth 6.0 fWAR.
As a whole, those are some solid numbers for his career. Digging in a little, though, a number of cracks start to appear. Rosario’s highest WAR season was in 2018 when he posted a 3.4 fWAR. In the remainder of his seasons, he’s largely hovered between a 1-2.5 fWAR player. Aside from the aforementioned two year stretch of very solid baseball, Rosario hasn’t provided much at the plate. Outside of the career marks set in 2017 and 2018, he has posted a wRC+ of 97, 86, 104, 111 (COVID-shortened 2020 season), and 98. When he’s been good he’s been quite good, but, on the whole, he’s been closer to slightly-below-average than anything else.
Additionally, since we’re always a little sensitive to time spent on the field after the past few years of being near the top of IL stints, Rosario has only played in more than 140 games once in his career. Aside from 2017, Rosario’s next highest amount of games played is 138 in 2018. In fact, the only seasons you could really say he played a “full” season were 2017 (151 games) and the shortened 2020 season when he played in 57 games.
Now that the fairly good is out of the way, time for the ugly: fielding. Rosario is simply not a good fielder. Throughout his career, he’s typically ranged from -1 to -3 OAA and has accumulated 4 DRS as he split time across all three outfield positions. Again, much like his career numbers, on the whole that’s not terrible — it’s certainly below average, but not that awful — but there are a few wrinkles, namely the 2017 and 2019 seasons. In 2017, Rosario posted -11 DRS while his OAA that year came in at -3. In 2019, everything fell apart, as he posted a -11 DRS season and saw his OAA plummet to -17. In fact, since starting his career in 2016, Rosario has posted a -20 OAA. I think it’s safe to say Rosario doesn’t exactly excel in the field.
To answer the question that’s on everyone’s mind, yes, Rosario has played some center field in his career. Just because he has stood in center occasionally, however, doesn’t mean he can field it. In 384.1 career innings played there — by far his lowest amount of innings played in the three outfield positions — he’s posted a -2 DRS and 1 OAA. Given his struggles in both left and right field throughout the years, as well as his well below-average outfielder jump rate (see image below), I think it’s safe to say any attempt to play him in center full-time would be a mistake.
Finally, his 2021 MLB percentile rankings, according to Baseball Savant. That’s a whole lot of blue, which you do not want to see. While he doesn’t strike out all that much and does a solid job of making contact, that’s about all he has going for him.
Eddie Rosario is a lefty bat who doesn’t really strike out all that much and has played a little bit of center field throughout his career. If you’re thinking about how Rosario would fit on this Yankees team, that’s pretty much where it ends. Recency bias is a thing, though, and I’m sure his recent hot stretch is enough to make a few front offices at least consider extending a contract offer to Rosario. I just hope the Yankees aren’t one of them.