The St. Louis Cardinals should be all over Eddie Rosario
One of the St. Louis Cardinals’ biggest needs this winter is power and more of it just became available in Eddie Rosario.
It seems this winter that with each passing day, more and more good players become available on the open market. There is no way that the St. Louis Cardinals completely sit out on all of these great deals on valuable contributors.
On Tuesday, a day ahead of the non-tender deadline, the Twins announced that they would not be tendering Eddie Rosario, making him the most recent player to be available.
While there will likely be many more surprising non-tenders on Wednesday’s deadline, the Cardinals should be all over Eddie Rosario.
By all accounts, the Cardinals were a bottom-five power team in the MLB in 2020 and have not been good in that category since the beginning of the decade. This winter, there are already plenty of bats out there that, even with shortcomings in other areas, have power to offer. The goal for the Cards should be to acquire as much power as they can, and it shouldn’t be very hard.
In Rosario, the Cardinals could get plenty of power.
For the past four years, Rosario has been very consistent with the Twins. He has averaged a .281/.317/.493 slash with an average of 28 homers and 88 RBI per year from 2017-2019. In 2020, Rosario hit 13 in the unfriendly confines of Target Field.
Much like Marcell Ozuna has always been a Statcast darling, Rosario has been the opposite. His counting stats have been there the past four seasons regardless of a less than stellar hard hit percentage and average exit velocity.
Rosario isn’t perfect, he doesn’t walk hardly at all, but he also doesn’t strike out much. Over the course of his career, he has never walked higher than a 6% rate other than in 2020. In 2019 and 2020, his strikeout rate has been right around 14.5%. In the two years before that, it sat around 18%, suggesting this lower rate of 14.5% is not an outlier.
Rosario’s lack of walks has capped his total offensive value, as his best offensive season by wRC+ is just 117. However, the power he provides is enough value on its own.
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Another thing that Rosario excels at is hitting non-fastballs. As a team, the Cardinals are just not thrown a ton of fastballs because they have a lot of players who struggle against breaking and offspeed pitches.
In 2019, Rosario batted .287 with a .564 slugging percentage against offspeed pitches. While he was worse against breaking balls (.230 batting average with .430 slugging), that still isn’t bad and he was best against fastballs. In 2020, Rosario was even better against offspeed pitches.
Defensively, Rosario has spent the bulk of his career in left field and is not really a good fielder. In 2019, he had an impressively bad -18 OAA in left field but hadn’t had worse than -2 OAA out there before then. He has a pretty solid arm, but whatever team signs him isn’t doing it for his defense. Thankfully for the Cardinals, they have the defense to spare.
As a left-handed batter, Rosario doesn’t have bad splits against lefties in his career but would be a fine platoon candidate. The Cardinals have plenty of right-handed outfielders that are better against lefties than righties. Bringing in one or more lefty outfielders could be a good way to improve the offense if playing time can be managed correctly.
The Twins said no to Rosario’s estimated $9.6M contract, making him a free agent after clearing waivers. Presumably, that would mean that Rosario could be acquired for that price or less. At 29, Rosario isn’t old and despite his shortcomings, he could be a difference-maker for the Cardinals’ offense.
Rosario has consistently provided a slugging percentage around .500 and excels against offspeed pitches. The DH and other defensive outfielders on the team can help minimize his shortcomings and he could easily bat cleanup on the Cardinals as of right now.