The Reds have considered a run at Indians shortstop Amed Rosario as an alternative to spending on the free-agent market, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). MLB Network’s Jon Heyman hears the same, tweeting that while Cincinnati has maintained interest in Didi Gregorius, he might prove too expensive an option.
Cincinnati has rampantly slashed payroll this winter, non-tendering Archie Bradley and Curt Casali despite modest arbitration projections and dumping Raisel Iglesias’ $9.125MM salary in a deal with the Angels. General manager Nick Krall has spoken of reallocating those resources, but to this point the club has yet to put that money back into the roster. Acquiring Rosario, who is owed just $2.4MM after avoiding arbitration earlier in the winter, would represent the team’s only addition to the payroll this offseason.
Puma reported last night that the Indians were receiving trade interest in Rosario, which likely caught some fans off guard given that Rosario was one of the pieces Cleveland received from the Mets in their Francisco Lindor/Carlos Carrasco blockbuster. However, Cleveland has also been slashing payroll this winter — and doing so on an even more extreme level. The Indians also acquired another MLB-ready option at shortstop in Andres Gimenez, who at this point is more highly regarded than Rosario.
It stands to reason that Cleveland could simply have acquired Rosario with an open mind — exploring the trade market for him but also content to carry him into the season. If he were to be flipped to another club, whatever players come back to Cleveland in return could in many ways be considered an extension of the franchise’s return for Lindor and Carrasco.
Still just 25 years old, Rosario was once regarded as one of MLB’s best overall prospects, but he’s yet to display much of that potential in the big leagues. He had a roughly league-average year at the plate in 2019 when he hit .287/.323/.432 with 15 homers and 19 steals, but his offense cratered in 2020. Overall, he’s a .268/.302/.403 hitter (89 wRC+) in more than 1500 big league plate appearances. Rosario was at one point considered an eventual plus defender, but to this point in his career he’s been 21 outs below average, per Statcast’s OAA mark, and has turned in a Defensive Runs Saved mark of -35 in 3306 innings.
Rosario is still young and controlled all the way through the 2023 season, so perhaps the Reds or another interested party believe they can help him tap into the ability that at one point led to Rosario ranking as a consensus top 10 prospect in all of baseball.