2022 Shortstop Targets? – Amed Rosario
At the beginning of the offseason, Brian Cashman said the Yankees were not going to go into the 2022 with Gleyber Torres at shortstop. With a tremendous crop of free agent talent available, the Yankees missed out on Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Javier Baez.
This week we’ll look at a few free agents and trade targets to fill the role.
Today we look at the case for and against trading for Amed Rosario from the Cleveland Guardians.
Amed Rosario: A Quick Overview
Amed Rosario came into his career as an international signee by the New York Mets, coming out of the Dominican Republic and signing for a franchise-high $1.75 Million in July, 2012. Rosario then spent the next 5 years in the Minor Leagues (2013-2017), slowing moving up from Rookie ball in 2013 to Triple-A through half of the 2017 season. On August 1st, 2017 Amed Rosario made his MLB debut with the new York Mets against the Colorado Rockies. He then spent the next 4 years (2017-2020) with the New York Mets before being traded to the then-Cleveland Indians in a major trade deal that sent Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to Flushing. Rosario then spent the 2021 season with Cleveland, though his future there could be uncertain given the sense that they are in a rebuild and because Rosario had good value with having two years left (2022-2023) under arbitration. He is projected to make around $5 Million for the 2022 season.
Over his career, Amed Rosario has hit to a .272/.307/.404 (.712 OPS/93 OPS+) triple-slash with 551 hits, 43 Home Runs, and 205 RBI’s over 544 games. He’s also put in just over 4,300 innings at shortstop to a -29 DRS and a -2.5 UZR. (He also spent 123.1 innings at Center Field in 2021). Combined with everything, he’s accumulated +5.5 bWAR and +7.4 fWAR over parts of 5 seasons in the MLB.
In 2021, Amed Rosario had his 2nd best season to date as he hit to a .282/.321/.409 (.731 OPS/99 OPS+) triple-slash with 155 hits, 11 Home Runs, and 57 RBI’s. He also went 13/0 when it came to stealing bases/getting caught. On defense, he had a -9 DRS but a +1.7 UZR. According to Fangraphs, Rosario was a positive offensive player (OFF of +0.6) and defensive player (DEF of +6.3). All told, Rosario accumulated +1.9 bWAR and +2.7 fWAR.
Amed Rosario also does not have much of an injury history at all. He had two short stints on the then-DL while in the minor leagues (once in each of 2015 and 2016), and that was it for injury-related appearances on the list. In 2020 Rosario did suffer quad tightness in one game and was kept out of action for a few days, but avoided the Injured List. In 2021, Rosario was put on the IL for 4 days for matters related to COVID-19 and passing return-to-play protocols after he had to tend to matters outside of the USA.
The Case For Amed Rosario:
A long-term shortstop is not the answer for the New York Yankees. Well, it might have been with Corey Seager (too bad he signed with the Texas Rangers already), though his injury history is also very concerning considering the deal that he got. Truthfully, a stop-gap shortstop is the Yankees best option currently as we have to hope that at least one of the prospects pans out. This is where Amed Rosario becomes a great move.
Amed Rosario is under contract for the perfect amount with his two years of arbitration. Those years also come at a really nice price with an expected Arb 2 salary for 2022 at about $5 Million, which means his Arb 3 salary for 2023- unless he plays himself into an MVP season- is likely to be around the $10 Million mark. Considering most other options would cost that combined rate over 1 year (Didi/Simmons) or double that (Correa/Seager), this is a very affordable contract that would easily allow the Yankees the room to make further moves.
That 2-years is also the perfect amount of time for the Yankees to figure out if their top prospects are worth the hype. Oswald Peraza is starting to knock on the MLB door already as a glove-first shortstop prospect and his bat has started to come around this past year. Anthony Volpe emerged as a dominant prospect in his first full year of experience, so much that he’s a consensus Top-25 prospect. Oswaldo Cabrera could also make his own case as a prospect with the most high-level experience. And that’s not counting Trey Sweeney, Alexander Vargas, and the recently signed Roderick Arias. Not everyone will work out, but given the large amount of promise in the system, having a player who is easy to work around like Rosario would be is a big plus.
One other plus that Rosario has over some of the other players from this weeklong series is that he’s only entering into his age 26 season. Now, Carlos Correa is entering into his age-27 season, but Trevor Story is going into his age-29 season, and both Didi Gregorius and Andrelton Simmons are going into their age-32 seasons. There is a huge difference in a player, especially someone who plays such a quick-twitch physically demanding position like shortstop. As players get older they will naturally slow down, while Rosario (and Correa) are entering into the typical peak years as a defensive and offensive player.
One other thing about Rosario that is of huge importance (to me) is the fact that he is an ironman on the field. He’s rarely injured and in each full season he’s had in the MLB he’s played in 140 games or more, and in two of those seasons he played in 150+ games. One of the biggest problems of the current Yankees is their constant needing to find filler players as people go down with injury. That’s anything but a concern for Rosario.
The Simple Pro’s: Cheap and Short-Term Contract, Player Entering Offensive Peak, Avoids Injuries
The Case Against Amed Rosario:
Just because Amed Rosario is my personal pick for who the Yankees stopgap shortstop should be, there are concerns and risks with him. I just think that they aren’t as overwhelming for the Yankees as opposed to other options.
The biggest thing against Rosario is the lack of true offensive potential. His best season statistically was 2019 (when the MLB juiced the balls) and he had just a 101 OPS+ while playing with the New York Mets. This past season he produced a 99 OPS+. His offense depends a lot on BABIP (he had a .340 in 2021 and a .338 in 2019) which is something that can fluctuate and ruin an offensive season for a player.
Amed Rosario is also not a defensive darling when looking at the statistics. He had a fielding percentage of .976 at shortstop in 2021 and he has never finished a season with a positive DRS. Defense is a finicky thing when it comes to the statistics, but it is safe to safe he’s not a gold glove threat.
The final big thing against Amed Rosario is that he’s not going to be easy to pry away from the Cleveland Guardians. He was their 6th best player in 2021 and their 2nd best offensive player (behind only Jose Ramirez). It’s not easy to take away a player like that from a team, regardless of if they are supposedly tanking. To be fair to the Guardians, they did place 2nd in the AL Central last season with their 80-82 record and could see it that they are only a few moves away from being competitive next year.
He is also a right-handed hitter…drats!
The Simple Con’s: Lack of true Offensive Prowess, Unfavorable Defensive Statistics, Will Cost to Get
While Amed Rosario is not going to wow anybody with incredible offense, his batting average (.287) would’ve tied with Aaron Judge for the team lead, and his OBP would’ve been 6th best and his SLG would’ve been 5th best on the starting lineup. Not everybody needs to be a “home run or bust” type hitter. Additionally, in each MLB season he has managed a BABIP above .300 which does neutralize that fear for me.
And while Amed Rosario is not going to be competing for gold gloves, his UZR has been favorable over the past two years and his dWAR has always hovered around neutral. It’s safe to say that he would do a fine job manning the position for the next year or so, and if not the Yankees do have option (Peraza) who could be taking that place soon.
That is really the best part of the Rosario puzzle. If the Yankees find that one of their prospects is worthy for the spot during the next season or two, Rosario is going to have value to them as somebody they could trade away. Cheap players like Rosario are always valuable and they would be able to find a suitor.
The Yankees have much bigger needs than shortstop. They need a good starting pitcher (personally, I like Carlos Rodon) to add to the rotation, I think they should go all-out to get Freddie Freeman onto the team, and Rosario is a perfect fit to allow them an upgrade at shortstop at a low monetary cost. Rosario is not going to prevent them from making a big signing. I’m also not worried about the prospects they’d send away to get him, prospects on the whole don’t pan out. I’d rather use them as trade fodder for MLB talent than let them falter out in the Yankees system.
The Yankees don’t need to make a big splash at shortstop, and Rosario is the exact type that would work well for their plans. He’d be like the first rock you try to skip on the pond. It’ll probably go once or twice but the bigger and better skips are going to come later once you found your grove again.