MLB free agency: Cleveland agrees to one-year deal with free agent slugger Eddie Rosario, per report

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Cleveland has added some desperately needed outfield help. The club has agreed to a one-year contract worth $8 million with free agent slugger Eddie Rosario, reports’s Mark Feinsand. The team has not yet confirmed the move. Rosario became a free agent when the AL Central rival Twins non-tendered him in early December.

Rosario, 29, has been one of the game’s steadiest power hitters in recent years. The lefty swinger slugged 13 home runs in the 60-game season a year ago, and his 96 homers since 2017 are a top 30 mark in baseball. Believe it or not, Cleveland has not had an outfielder hit 24 homers in a season since Grady Sizemore in 2008. Rosario hit at least that many every year from 2017-19.

The outfield has been a major problem for Cleveland the last few years. Since Michael Brantley left as a free agent during the 2018-19 offseason, Cleveland’s outfielders have combined to hit .239/.306/.389 with 72 home runs in over 2,600 plate appearances. That is the fifth worst batting average, sixth worst on-base percentage, and fourth worst slugging percentage among all outfield units.

Cleveland lost walk machine Carlos Santana to free agency and traded superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor earlier this offseason, creating a massive hole in the middle of the lineup. Rosario alone won’t replace those Lindor and Santana, but he will help. Manager Terry Francona can now deploy a starting lineup that looks something like this:

  1. 2B Cesar Hernandez (recently re-signed)
  2. LF Josh Naylor
  3. 3B Jose Ramirez
  4. RF Eddie Rosario
  5. DH Franmil Reyes
  6. C Roberto Perez
  7. 1B Jake Bauers
  8. SS Andres Gimenez
  9. CF Oscar Mercado

Cleveland also has Amed Rosario, who came over in the Lindor trade and is a natural shortstop. His name has popped up in trade rumors recently and he also could move to another position, with center field a long rumored destination. It’s also possible Cleveland will slot Rosario in at short and send Gimenez to Triple-A for more seasoning.

Rosario is a steady source of power and solid batting averages, but he rarely walks (career .310 on-base percentage) and is not much of a defender. He’s spent most of his time in left field but may have to move to right in deference to Naylor, a converted first baseman with fairly limited outfield experience. Naylor’s spent most of his outfield time in left.

Because he was non-tendered in December, Rosario did not make our top 60 free agents list. Minnesota non-tendered him rather than pay a projected $9.6 million through arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

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