The 27-year-old Rosario was a bit of a square peg in parts of five seasons with the Rockies, batting .273/.306/.473 but with questionable defense behind the dish. He played with the Eagles in 2016 and had success there, however, batting .321/.367/.593 with 33 homers (although it should be noted that the KBO, like Coors Field, tends to be very kind to hitters — other recent KBO sluggers to make the leap to the big leagues, including Jung Ho Kang, Byung Ho Park and Eric Thames, posted KBO OPS figures a couple hundred points higher than Rosario’s). Rosario reportedly was considering returning to the Majors following his fine season in Korea, but it appears he’ll stay there for at least another year.
The Braves are “aggressively swapping offers” with other organizations for starters, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). Atlanta has been rumored to have inquired on basically all of the quality, young, controllable arms that might be available, and it seems that the organization is serious about pursuing a major strike. One such pitcher, of course, is White Sox lefty Chris Sale, who has also reportedly been asked about by the Braves’ division rivals to the north. Adding a starting pitcher isn’t exactly a priority for the Nationals, at least from the perspective of need, but Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post argues that the team ought to push hard for Sale. By Svrluga’s reckoning, the team has the prospect arsenal needed to get something done; after another postseason disappointment, he says, adding another ace could get the team over the hump.
Here are a few more notes on the developing market:
- There are five teams in on free agent utilityman Sean Rodriguez, reports Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (via Twitter). One is the Pirates, who have said they’re interested in a reunion, and the Dodgers are also intrigued, per Robert Murray of Fan Rag. MLBTR rated Rodriguez as the 35th-best free agent available after his productive 2016 campaign.
- We’ve heard discussion about the possibility of the Phillies dealing Cesar Hernandez, particularly after the team acquired second-base-capable Howie Kendrick, and CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman takes a look at his possible trade market. His productive 2016 and cheap control make him an interesting option for other organizations, though the question remains whether he can sustain his breakout. Seidman discusses some players who could hold appeal to Philadelphia, suggesting that the club would be most interested in a major league return.
- Lefty Johan Santana may not be done yet, Cotillo adds on Twitter. He’s planning on winter ball in Venezuela in hopes that he can land an opportunity with a major league organization. This certainly isn’t the first time that Santana, now 37, has had a crack at a return, but his prior efforts have all been thwarted by injury. The two-time Cy Young winner has not seen major league action since 2012.
- Free agent slugger Wilin Rosario is still hopeful of landing with a major league club after spending a year in Korea, Cotillo tweets, but he’s not committed to playing in North America. A return to the KBO could also be a consideration, per the report. Rosario, 27, may no longer be an option behind the dish, but his power should intrigue regardless. Over 532 plate appearances last year with the Hanwha Eagles, he posted a .321/.367/.593 batting line with 33 long balls, though of course the KBO is a notably friendly league for hitters.
Former Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario hopes to return to the majors after spending 2016 in Korea, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports on Twitter. He signed there when significant MLB interest failed to materialize after Colorado designated him for assignment last fall.
It seems questionable whether Rosario will return to suiting up behind the dish at this stage — he’s never been a well-regarded defender — though perhaps that can’t be ruled out. Regardless, he ought to draw some interest for his power bat.
Still just 27, Rosario ran up an impressive .321/.367/.593 batting line with 33 home runs in his 532 plate appearances for the Hanwha Eagles. While that output took place in the extremely hitter-friendly KBO, it still serves as a reminder that he has legitimate pop.
Over 2012-13, his first two full major league seasons, Rosario swatted 49 home runs in just 892 plate appearances and posted a .282/.314/.507 slash. Even with Coors Field boosting the line, that was good for a 107 OPS+.
Rosario fell off thereafter, of course. And while even his best offensive seasons in the majors were impressive for a catcher, they weren’t exactly jaw-dropping for a player who could be limited to first base or DH.
Free-agent catcher/first baseman Wilin Rosario has signed with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization, tweets Jee-ho Yoo of Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. The Team One Management client will earn $1.3MM with the Eagles, per Yoo, who notes in a full column that the Eagles have announced the signing. Rosario’s winter league team had previously tweeted that he was expected to sign with a Korean team, though no details as to which team were included at the time.
Rosario, who will turn 27 late next month, saw a significantly reduced role with Colorado in his final year with the team. After belting 49 home runs across his first two full seasons in the league, questions about his glove seemingly cut his role with the Rockies. Rosario batted .277/.311/.484 from 2012-14, but he saw just 242 plate appearances in Colorado last season, nearly all of which came at first base. Rosario caught only two games last year due to perceived defensive deficiencies. While Rosario has thrown out a solid 28 percent of attempted base-stealers against him in his Major League career, he caught just 16 percent in 2014 and rated near the bottom of the league in terms of pitch-framing metrics in 2013 and 2014.
Defensive question marks notwithstanding, it’s still somewhat surprising to see Rosario’s bat land overseas. As a hitter with plenty of pop in his bat and in the midst of his prime-aged years, however, it’s easy enough to envision Rosario thriving in the hitter-friendly KBO. He’ll join former Rockies teammate and fellow Dominican Republic native Esmil Rogers on the Eagles’ roster in Korea.
Rockies first baseman/catcher Wilin Rosario has elected free agency after clearing outright waivers, per MLB.com’s Thomas Harding (via Twitter). As a player with more than three years of service time, Rosario had the right to reject his outright assignment.
Rosario owns a lifetime .273/.306/.473 batting line in parts of five big league seasons. That looks rather impressive at first glance, but represents roughly league-average production overall once his time at Coors Field is weighed in. Last year was Rosario’s worst at the big league level — excluding a short stint as a 22-year-old — as he managed only a 79 OPS+ in his 242 MLB plate appearances.
The 26-year-old was one of several arb-eligible players recently designated for assignment by Colorado. MLBTR projected him to earn $3.2MM through arbitration, and that pay rate obviously proved too steep both for the Rockies and the rest of the league.
It seems likely that Rosario will find a new home, though it remains to be seen whether any other organizations still believe there’s hope for the 26-year-old behind the plate. As a backstop, Rosario’s high-power bat holds quite a bit of appeal. But if he’s limited to first base or DH duties, there’s obviously much less upside.
The Rockies have designated a notable group of players for assignment today to clear space on the 40-man roster, per a club announcement. Relievers John Axford, Rex Brothers, and Tommy Kahnle are all now in DFA limbo, as is first baseman/catcher Wilin Rosario.
Colorado has selected the contracts of righties Carlos Estevez and Antonio Senzatela, infielder Trevor Story, and outfielder Raimel Tapia. All of those players will be protected from the Rule 5 draft.
It’s somewhat surprising to see all of those veterans being pushed out the door, but the move saves significant dollars for the Rockies. Per MLBTR’s arbitration projections, the trio of Axford, Brothers, and Rosario would’ve cost just over $11MM in 2016. All three could potentially score guaranteed contracts in free agency — and Axford almost certainly will after a solid campaign — but it also is easy to see why the team wasn’t willing to pay their respective arb prices to keep them.
Kahnle was not yet arb eligible, but lost his place after his walk rate ballooned to 7.6 BB/9 last year. The pre-2014 Rule 5 pick showed enough to stick in Colorado, and his mid-90s heater is still humming, so he ought to draw some interest from clubs that are looking for a project.
Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan left the position yesterday, and Evan Grant of DallasNews.com examines four possible candidates to replace him. Three of those are former MLB stars: Jason Giambi, Michael Young and Ivan Rodriguez. Giambi is widely considered a potential future manager, and he already works with young Rangers power hitter Joey Gallo. Young is a special assistant with the Rangers, but Grant feels he’s unlikely to take the hitting coach job and spend less time with his family. Rodriguez was briefly rumored to be a candidate for the Marlins’ manager job earlier this year. Grant also mentions Rangers minor-league hitting instructor Justin Mashore, noting that the organization holds Mashore in high regard. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- The Dodgers have announced the resignation of Vice President, Medical Services and Head Trainer Stan Conte, who had worked with the team for nine years. “I want to thank Stan for his contributions to the Dodgers over the past nine years as well as all he has done for the entire community of sports medicine,” says Dodgers exec Andrew Friedman. The departure could be the first of many within the Dodgers organization after a disappointing exit from the playoffs this week.
- The Rockies need to get more from their bench next season, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. In particular, Daniel Descalso, Wilin Rosario and the since-departed Drew Stubbs struggled. 3B/OF Rafael Ynoa and outfielder Brandon Barnes appear likely to take two bench spots next year, but beyond that, the Rockies’ plans are unclear. Rosario, however, appears likely to depart — he could be a non-tender candidate and has also already indicated that he’s open to being traded.
Having seen his role diminish from starting catcher to part-time catcher to backup/platoon first baseman over the past few seasons, Wilin Rosario is open to a trade away from the Rockies organization if it means a larger role with another team, he tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. “If they want to move me, I’m good with it,” Rosario said. “If it gives me a chance to play more, I’m fine with it.”
Rosario, still just 26 years of age (27 in February), hit 49 homers in his first two full big league seasons, batting .282/.314/.507 in that time. His bat took a fairly substantial step backward in 2014, however, and he’s started just 53 games this season — 45 at first base, six as a DH in interleague play and two behind the plate. He’s batted .272/.298/.421 in 2015, seeing most of his action against left-handed pitching.
While Rosario’s diminished offense played a part in his reduced role with the team, it’s his glove that really cost him his playing time. Rosario is regarded as a poor defensive backstop and rates as one of the worst pitch-framing catchers in the league. He caught opposing base-stealers at about a legaue-average rate in 2012-13, but that number dipped to 16 percent in 2014 as well. He’s also struggled blocking pitches, per Baseball Prospectus.
Rosario told Saunders that he’s not bitter toward the Rockies for the decision, but he does still think of himself as a catcher, and clearly one that can produce if given a greater role. General manager Jeff Bridich said to Saunders that he’s seen improvement in Rosario’s glove at first base, adding that it’s too soon to make any sort of determination on Rosario’s future.
If a trade is the preferred route, Bridich may have a difficult time, as the GM himself admitted in August that trade interest in Rosario was limited, at best, prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. Failing that outcome, the Rockies will have another decision to make by early December, as Rosario will be eligible for arbitration once again this winter. He took home a $2.8MM salary in his first trip through the arb process, and while his shuffling between Triple-A and the Majors this season as well as his diminished production will hinder his raise, he should still see a bump north of $3MM. It wouldn’t be an exorbitant price to pay for a platoon first baseman — especially not one that has crushed left-handed pitching at a .319/.356/.604 batting line throughout his career — but both a trade and a non-tender seem like plausible outcomes.
Giants rental acquisition Mike Leake will miss his upcoming start with a hamstring strain suffered during routine workouts, reports Chris Haft of MLB.com. While the Giants and Leake are both hopeful that he’ll miss just the one outing, but says he won’t know until today. It sounds like the maximum amount of time he’ll miss will be two starts, and swingman Ryan Vogelsong will step into the rotation in his place. The Giants traded their top prospect, righty Keury Mella, to the Reds along with corner infielder Adam Duvall in exchange for Leake on July 30.
More from the NL West…
- The Mets offered right-hander Michael Fulmer to the Padres in exchange for Justin Upton near the trade deadline prior to acquiring Yoenis Cespedes, ESPN’s Buster Olney first reported earlier this week. That, clearly, wasn’t enough to get a deal done, as Upton remains in San Diego and Fulmer was eventually traded to the Tigers (along with fellow righty Luis Cessa) for Cespedes.
- Peter Gammons spoke to Padres GM A.J. Preller, who addressed the notion of buying and selling as well as the perceived inactivity of his club. “When someone said, ‘it’s easier to buy than sell,’ that did bother me,” Preller told Gammons. “That implies that we did little preparation. They don’t realize the three weeks to a month that so many of our scouts and baseball people were out on the road, going from town to town without seeing their families, trying to find the right players. They worked their hearts out for the Padres.”
- Though Wilin Rosario’s name has been kicked around in trade rumors for the better part of a year, he remained in Colorado at the trade deadline and apparently drew relatively limited interest. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post asked Rockies GM Jeff Bridich about the decision not to move Rosario and was told, “The trading queries were pretty quiet on Wilin.” Saunders says that sources outside the Rockies organization placed too much value on Rosario; the Rockies see him as a Major League talent, writes Saunders, but some other clubs view him as more of a fringe big leaguer.
Entering the All-Star break, just three teams — the Phillies, Brewers and Marlins — have fewer wins than the Rockies, who find themselves 11 games out of contention in the National League West. With Colorado looking more and more like a deadline seller, here’s the latest out of Denver…
- In a mailbag piece, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes that he can envision Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Wilin Rosario and John Axford being traded in the next two weeks. Though Nick Hundley appears to be a classic trade candidate — he’s hitting well in the first season of an affordable two-year deal — Saunders writes that he’s emerged as a strong presence in the clubhouse, which upper management may not want to lose. Blackmon would make an intriguing trade candidate, though his struggles against lefties and significant home/road splits throughout his career would seem like potential hindrances to his trade value, in my mind.
- Gonzalez, who has battled injuries frequently throughout his Rockies tenure, tells the Post’s Nick Groke that he’s healthy for the first time in a season and feels that his surgically repaired knee finally has the strength to allow him to wait on his back leg to adjust to breaking pitches. CarGo hit .464/.483/.929 with four doubles and three homers over the final week of the first half.
- Troy Tulowitzki’s name has been in trade rumors for years, and he addressed the constant speculation at yesterday’s All-Star festivities when meeting with the media. Via the L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin, Tulo told reporters, “Right now, I’m still a Rockie. I’ve dealt with [trade rumors] for a couple years now. I’m still in a Rockies uniform. It is what it is.” Tulo went on to say that he feels the Rockies can eventually put a winner on the field, citing promising young teammates such as Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu. Tulowitzki also went on to say that he takes “a lot of pride in staying in one organization.” Tulo called Derek Jeter his favorite player (the reason behind his No. 2 in Colorado) and discussed the possibility of staying Colorado forever. “Not too many guys get to do it in this day and age. It would be cool, when I am done playing, to say that I did that,” said Tulowitzki.