Cleveland Indians sign Eddie Rosario for one year, $8 million

Outfielder Eddie Rosario, now with the Cleveland Indians. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
Outfielder Eddie Rosario, now with the Cleveland Indians. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Just a few weeks before the beginning of spring training, it seems that the Cleveland Indians are no longer gunning for the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball. Ken Rosenthal reported Friday night that Cleveland had signed outfielder Eddie Rosario to a one-year, $8 million deal.

A win-now move for Cleveland Indians?

On the surface, this seems like a clear cut “let’s bring in a winning player” move for a team that was in the postseason picture just a few months ago.

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But if Cleveland was trying to win, they probably wouldn’t have traded two of their best players to the New York Mets in Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. They very easily could have afforded to pay both. Instead, Cleveland flipped them for prospects and threw in the proverbial towel on the 2021 season.

So what does it serve them to bring Rosario in on a one-year deal for a season which doesn’t look great for them?

Maybe they’re trying to catch lightning in a bottle and sneak away with a playoff spot in a pretty weak division. They still have a strong rotation led by Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac alongside Aaron Civale and Triston McKenzie. Their solid pitching staff can take a lot of pressure off a lineup that didn’t produce much in 2020, even with the departure of Lindor.

Still, they aren’t a match for the Minnesota Twins powerhouse lineup or the up-and-coming Chicago White Sox.

So alternatively, maybe they want to flip Rosario at the deadline for more prospects. There’s always a team at the trade deadline in need of some more power in their lineup. So maybe they decided to use their aggressive payroll flexibility to essentially buy future talent.

Rosario is simply looking for a place to re-establish his free agency value. He’s one of many mid-range players who fell victim to the slow market. And at just 29 years old, he still has a chance to get a nice payday once teams recoup some of their losses from the shortened 2020 season.

Under normal conditions, he likely wouldn’t have had any trouble securing a multi-year deal from a team willing to bet on his ability to barrel balls up.

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It’s a weird fit for Cleveland. They’ve made it clear that they’re entering a rebuilding phase. And a 29-year-old power hitter really doesn’t fit that mold. Regardless, Rosario will bring power to a weak lineup and Cleveland will continue to put too much faith in their pitching staff to prevent runs.