The Red Sox need an outfielder. Eddie Rosario needs a job. Sounds like a match made in Heaven, right?
Nothing is ever that simple in the convoluted world of MLB free agency, though it seems the outfielder-needy Red Sox are certainly in the market for help at that position and Rosario, who the Twins surprisingly non-tendered on Wednesday, could be just the man for the job. Jon Morosi of MLB Network notes Boston has already inquired on the newly available Rosario, a career .277 hitter who bopped 13 homers with 42 RBI, the latter stat good for sixth in the American League, for Minnesota this past season.
Boston boasted one of the league’s top outfields as recently as 2019, trotting out the dominant trio of Andrew Benintendi, slick-fielding Jackie Bradley Jr. and perennial MVP candidate Mookie Betts on a nightly basis. But those days are gone with Betts a Los Angeles Dodger (and a World Series champion at that) and JBJ likely headed elsewhere in free agency. That leaves Benintendi, coming off another down season (.103 AVG, 17 strikeouts in 39 at-bats) and Alex Verdugo, who arrived as part of the return package for Betts last offseason, to man the Red Sox’s outfield in 2021.
While not a plus defender by any stretch (though his three defensive runs saved last season was a noticeable improvement from previous years), the 29-year-old Rosario has proven to be a more-than-capable hitter, particularly in 2019 when he broke out for career-highs in both homers (32) and RBI (109) as part of the Twins’ record-setting “Bomba Squad” lineup. He’d certainly be a cheaper alternative to New England native George Springer, who figures to command nine figures on the open market. Rosario is also a favorite of manager Alex Cora (back from a year in exile), who selected him for the Puerto Rican national team at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
With Benintendi entrenched in left field and Verdugo the favorite to replace Bradley in center, Rosario, if signed, would likely slot in at right field. That’s a big ask of a newcomer considering Fenway’s famously bizarre park dimensions, especially along the Pesky Pole. Though primarily used as a left fielder in Minnesota, Rosario does boast 54 games of starting experience in right.
This could be a case of Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom simply doing his due diligence, kicking the tires on a player at a position of need. But given his offensive track record, Rosario would certainly be an interesting addition should the Red Sox go that route. For what it’s worth, Rosario has fared reasonably well at Fenway in his trips there as a visitor, sporting a .268/.305/.393 batting line with one homer, four doubles, five RBI and six runs scored over 59 lifetime plate appearances in Boston.