Amed Rosario is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2023 season, but the Guardians have some interest in retaining his services over a longer term, as Rosario told The Athletic’s Zack Meisel (Twitter link) and other reporters that the club has touched base with his agents at Octagon about a possible contract extension. Rosario isn’t considering Opening Day as a deadline for talks, but he isn’t sure if a deal will be reached.
While the Guardians have commonly pursued and reached extensions over the years, the team has generally pursued multi-year deals with younger players who are either early in their arbitration eligibility or are still in the pre-arb phase of their careers. Recent examples include the extensions Cleveland reached with Emmanuel Clase and Myles Straw just under a year ago, as both deals saw the Guards gain cost-certainty over the players’ arbitration years and also gain control over free agent years, whether via guaranteed years or via club options. Of course, the Guardians also signed the biggest contract in team history with their extension with Jose Ramirez last spring, but that deal is something of an outlier considering both Ramirez’s superstar status, his specific desire to remain in Cleveland, and his willingness to take a below-market price.
In short, it would represent a departure from Cleveland’s usual tactics if they locked up a player like Rosario, who is a little older (though he’ll only be 28 on Opening Day 2024) than their normal extension targets, and is also on the verge of free agency. Rosario and his camp are surely also weighing the Guardians’ offers against the wider market as a whole, since if Rosario can even just replicate his 2022 numbers, he’ll be one of the better options available in a free agent class that isn’t terribly deep in position players.
Once one of baseball’s top prospects during his days in the Mets farm system, Rosario hasn’t yet risen to those lofty expectations, yet he has become a solid everyday player over his two seasons in Cleveland. Rosario’s inconsistency in New York led the Mets to move him as part of the blockbuster trade that brought Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to Queens, while also giving Cleveland some major payroll savings and two new middle-infield building blocks in Rosario and Andres Gimenez.
It is a deal that has worked out very nicely for the Guardians, considering how Gimenez broke out with one of the best all-around seasons of any player in 2022. Rosario’s contributions have also been quite respectable, as he has produced 2.4 fWAR in each of his two seasons in Cleveland, hitting .282/.316/.406 over 1258 plate appearances for a 101 wRC+. His glovework at shortstop is more of a mixed bag depending on your defensive metric of choice, but at least in the view of Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150, his fielding was strongly above-average in 2022. Rosario also has some experience as a left fielder and center fielder, though his defense has been mediocre over his small sample size of 171 1/3 innings on the grass.
Given the Guardians’ penchant for trading players as they become too expensive, Rosario has been the subject of trade rumors almost since the moment he joined the organization, as there was even speculation Cleveland might flip him soon after the Mets deal. However, even with Rosario’s rising price tag and the number of promising young middle infield prospects in the Guards farm system, the front office has held off on a trade, and now might revert course entirely by extending Rosario beyond 2023. A midseason trade might still be possible if the Guardians were to fall out of the postseason race, or if the team becomes confident enough in its young depth options that it moves Rosario while also acting as deadline buyers in pursuit of another deep playoff run.
The ripple effects of a Rosario extension could include an increased willingness by the Guardians to move one or two of those prospects to address other needs, if the club is indeed eyeing Rosario and Gimenez as the long-term answer up the middle. Gimenez is under team control through the 2026 season and might be an extension candidate himself, so it doesn’t seem likely that the Guards would pivot to exploring a Gimenez trade if they locked up Rosario.
In terms of available payroll space, the Guardians don’t have much in the way of future commitments, but the team’s traditionally limited spending is itself an obstacle. Prior to Ramirez’s extension, Cleveland had never spent more than $60MM (Edwin Encarnacion) on a player, and it would seem like the team would have to spend well in excess of that number to cover multiple free agent years of a shortstop entering his age-28 season. Rosario told Meisel and company that he likes playing for the Guardians, though it isn’t known if he would be open to taking anything close to the relative hometown discount that Ramirez gave the team in his extension.
I think they’d do better to focus on Gimenez and Kwan extensions. Having said that, I think we’re getting close to a point where small market teams can no longer afford to extend star players. Gimenez was definitely that last year. Maybe you’ll get lucky and have a guy like Jose Ramirez whose main focus isn’t money, but those guys are incredibly rare.
Long Suffering Guardians Fan
Agreed. Focus on those two and McKenzie and bring JRam a title. Don’t block all our middle infield prospects.
Agreed. And in a couple years hopefully Brito comes up to take over 2b. He was interesting to watching in Spring Training, guy knows his strike zone.
At least they’re finally done with Roberto Alomar’s sorry ass.
He’ll probably have to move to 3rd at some point soon. And you won’t get that much power
I would try to turn him into a power hitting 3B, but the arm accuracy has always been shaky and he doesn’t have that much power
I would avoid it. He’s sort of an in-between SS/3B. His defense at SS has always been atrocious
Better to have a no power defense first SS honestly
Downsides of very bad defense at SS and 1st percentile chase rate outweigh the positives with Rosario
Just because he hits a few triples and HRs here and there is not a reason to keep him
Long Suffering Guardians Fan
No way he’s moving to 3B with JRam in town.
I mean, the pitchers eyes light up when Rosario comes up. He knows he’ll just chase everything
It’s an easy out and the rule of thumb is pass on easy outs
put it in the books
If Rosario’s OBP was 25 points higher he’d be a $200m player.
Wonder if this interest is coming from Rosario similarly to Ramirez. Rosario might be happy there and willing to take long-term security instead of more AAV on the market. If so the Guardians may as well go for it and focus resources elsewhere.
I’ll tell you why the 2016 Cubs won the World Series. It was Dexter Fowler. It was having a tough out in the lineup. A guy working counts, being a tough out. Putting a strain on the pitcher
Rosario is an easy out. The more you eliminate the easy outs, the better off your chances
Teams should have an internal ‘easy out’, ‘hole in the lineup’ metric. Their own proprietary metric. Chase rate combined with pitches taken, foul balls, babip, etc
Rosario is in the 99th percentile in easy out, which means totally avoid
“Holes” in the lineup. It’s a massive hole in the lineup. Same reason you don’t want Conforto. It’s a hole in the lineup
In nurse follars
Didn’t he win a silver slugger last year and had over 180 hits in 2021? Over 160 in 2022? .280 average? That’s an easy out? Unhappy Mets fan are you?
They should lock in Gimenez for long term. He’s a stud.
I don’t see it happening. I think it’s about trying to get a cheap deal if he will take it. if not, he’ll be moved. They got more out of Rosario than they planned. Kwan, Gimenez, JRam, Bell, Naylor, Spongebob is a pretty good top 6 in the order. Gimenez has a better glove and there are 20 middle infielders ready to plug in. One of them will fit in at 2B.
In nurse follars
No harm in kicking the tires early to see what salary demands are. Makes the decision to move him later easier if it comes to that. We all know he won’t get years or money in Cleveland.
Long Suffering Guardians Fan
Brayan Rocchio isn’t a fan of this article.
Neither is Arias or Freeman.
I don’t see it happening. Some team will probably overpay for Rosario in the off-season, who is a solid but not great player. The other factor is that the Guardians have several promising shortstop prospects that should be ready by 2024.
He needs to go to free agency and not get short changed by the guardians front office who will just trade him later
I love Amed’s style of play and he has made great strides as a defender.. but it is difficult to imagine anyone but Andres Gimenez as Cleveland’s SS next year.