Eddie Rosario will start spring training with a new Major League team for the first time in his six-year career. While it will be his first season with the Cleveland Indians, it should not take him long to get comfortable at his new home.
Rosario boasts a career .353 (60-170) batting average at Progressive Field, compared to his .266 career average away from Target Field — an impressive feat considering the Indians seem to have a starting pitching rotation that ranks near the top of the league in team ERA and has perennial Cy Young-caliber talent.
Not only that, but Rosario has hit .301 against Cleveland pitching since entering the league, but hit just .262 against the rest of the AL Central — .015 below his career average (.277).
Why did Cleveland sign Eddie Rosario? The answer might be simple: They do not want him terrorizing them anymore. Instead, this sets Rosario up to become the next great “Twins Killer.” The Indians just made his favorite ballpark home.
Rosario brings outfield depth and availability to Cleveland. Since 2017, he has played in 88% of the Twins regular season games, which is drastically more important considering Byron Buxton has only played in 54% of those games. Max Kepler, for what it’s worth, has played in 89% of them.
Being slim favorites over the White Sox to defend their AL Central Division title, depth becomes extremely important. Without Rosario, the Twins will be relying heavily on players like Jake Cave, Brent Rooker, Luis Arraez in a utility role, and probably Alex Kirilloff in left field. Kirilloff, 23, looks like the future in left, though it’s not certain he will begin the 2021 season in Minneapolis. The Twins may plan to start him in Triple-A for service time considerations.
Byron Buxton’s injury history also has to be considered here. The Twins outfield depth is reduced significantly if any injury occurs, and Kepler’s move to center will force someone else to the corner.
Rosario also provided reliable offensive play throughout his time in Minnesota. Whether you loved or hated him, he provided pop to the middle of the Twins lineup. Since 2017, one could argue that Rosario has been among the most productive and consistent offensive Twins players in the lineup. Below is how he stacks up against other core Twins players in major offensive statistics since their MLB debuts. Each player debuted in 2015, minus Polanco in 2014 (with only eight plate appearances)
Rosario fit in well with an aggressive lineup that punished opposing pitching, and replacing him will not be easy. Frankly, it is the last position up for grabs heading into spring training. Do I think this move will prevent the Twins from defending their AL Central title? No, they still have a potent offense. However, the repercussions of letting Rosario walk is something to keep an eye on.
Without knowing how the Twins plan on filling left field, I hope to see the outfield get solidified by mid-season and a continuation of the consistent offensive output they have been accustomed to for years.
How could this come back to hurt the Twins? Not only did Rosario flourish at Progressive Field, but he also raked at Target Field. His slash line in Minneapolis is .289/.319/.518 and he hit 56% of his home runs here.
Rosario, 29, will have plenty of opportunity to hurt the Twins next year. After trading Francisco Lindor, the Indians now have the smallest payroll in the MLB, and Rosario is projected to fit right into the heart of the lineup.
With a full 162-game season on the horizon, Rosario will face his former team 19 times. This leaves plenty of time for Rosario to cement himself as the next great Twins Killer.