The Braves have re-signed the free agent outfielder Eddie Rosario to a two-year, $18 million deal with a club option for the 2024 season, the team announced. Rosario will earn $9 million in each of the next two seasons. The Braves haven’t announced the value of the 2024 option, but The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that it is also at $9 million, with no buyout. Rosario is represented by Roc Nation Sports.
Rosario, 30, landed with the Braves in a midseason salary dump after a generally unproductive start to the season in Cleveland. The Twins’ longtime left fielder had signed an $8 million year there after being unoffered by Minnesota, but hit just .254/.296/.389 in 306 plate appearances before landing on the roster. injured due to abdominal strain. The Braves acquired Rosario knowing he would need more time to mend, but it’s unlikely even their most optimistic projections could have predicted what lay ahead.
Activated from the 10-day IL on August 27, Rosario exploded with a .271/.330/.573 showing in 96 plate appearances along the stretch in Atlanta. He has seven home runs, four doubles and a pair of triples during that hot streak – and that production alone would have been worth it. Rosario, however, carried that production into the playoffs — at least for the National League Championship Series.
After three mostly indescribable games in the NLDS, Rosario once again stole the show with a stunning 14-for-25 effort that included three home runs, a double, a triple and nine runs. Following this screening, Rosario’s crowning as NLCS MVP was a foregone conclusion. His output dried up during the World Series (5 for 22), but Rosario’s overall output with the Braves and those playoff heroics resulted in a solid salary and what seems like a day-to-day role in Atlanta.
The top-down nature of Rosario’s 2021 season wasn’t exactly freakish in nature. He’s been prone to scorching hot streaks and pronounced cold streaks throughout his big league career, thanks in part to a hyper-aggressive approach to the plate. Rosario has solid batting skills, as evidenced by a strikeout rate of just 14.7% over the past three seasons. However, he has also appeared in less than five percent of his big league appearances, and over the past three seasons has the 13th highest swing percentage in the game (55.8%) and the 11th highest percentage highest pursuit rate (43%). Rosario excels at making contact even on these off-the-plate pitches, but by chasing so frequently, he’s giving up a few opportunities to capitalize on his above-average power by driving better pitches.
Defensively, Rosario is rather mixed. He’s played all over the outfield, but is better suited in the corners, where he has ample arm strength that has led to showy assist totals, especially early in his tenure with the Twins. Defensive metrics have deteriorated on his work over the past few seasons, but there’s a huge chasm between the most bullish and bearish valuation metrics. Defensive Runs Saved, for example, gives Rosario a +2 rating in 2021 – but Statcast’s Outs Above Average ranks him at -17, which is the worst rating of any Major League outfielder. Year-to-year defensive metrics can offer great fluctuation, but taken in larger samples, each of the DRS, UZR, and OAA give it negative ratings dating back to 2017.
None of that is to say Rosario is a bad investment for the Braves, especially on these terms. His approach to the plate has worked for him, as evidenced by a strong .275/.309/.473 (105 wRC+) batting line and 133 home runs in 3,242 career plate appearances. He’s posted single-season homer totals of 27 (2017) and 32 (2019) in the past, so he has the potential to be a major powerhouse in the Braves’ roster over the next two seasons. His overall offensive production is held back a bit by the frequent swings and lack of steps, but Rosario has been a generally above average hitter who will partner with Adam Duval, Marcell Ozuna and, once healthy, Ronald Acuna Jr. in what should be a productive outfield/designated hitter carousel in Atlanta.