Eddie Rosario’s tenure in Minnesota started with fireworks. The free-swinging lefty hit the first pitch he saw in his major league career out to the bleachers.
It likely ended with a different kind of outburst. His last at-bat was punctuated by an ejection at the least opportune time, as Rosario, one of the Twins’ big bats, got himself tossed out of a tied elimination game against the Astros in the Wild Card Series.
The bookends of his Twins tenure perhaps encapsulate Rosario as a player as well as anything — an exciting player capable of producing and thrilling, albeit one who is undisciplined at times. The Twins non-tendered the left fielder after he went unclaimed on waivers. He is now a free agent, as is reliever Matt Wisler, who was also non-tendered.
The Twins have agreed to terms with Jose Berrios ($6.1 million), Byron Buxton ($5.125), Tyler Duffey ($2.2), Mitch Garver ($1.875) and Caleb Thielbar ($650,000). They have also tendered a contract to lefty Taylor Rogers.
Rosario, who earned a pro-rated portion of his $7.75 million salary last season, was projected to receive between $8.6 to $12.9 million this winter by MLB Trade Rumors, which is money the Twins can now allocate elsewhere.
Rosario hit .257 with a .316 on-base percentage and .476 slugging percentage and 13 home runs in 57 games played during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and has been a mainstay in the Twins’ lineup for years. Since debuting in 2015, Rosario has become a fan-favorite at Target Field, often resulting in “Ed-die, Ed-die,” chants from the left-field bleachers.
But the Twins decided to make the move on Wednesday with two of their top prospects ready or near-ready to step in.
Alex Kirilloff, who made his debut during the 2020 playoffs, and Trevor Larnach, who has yet to debut, have been knocking at the door. Both first-round draft picks, the two prospects are lauded for their bats and come at a cheaper cost than Rosario.
Brent Rooker, who also debuted in 2020 before a forearm fracture ended his season, could also see playing time there, if Kirilloff or Larnach aren’t yet ready. Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade Jr. are other internal options on the roster.
The decision to non-tender Rosario frees up money for the Twins to use elsewhere. The Twins have open rotation spots that need to be addressed, as well as needs in the bullpen. Re-signing designated hitter Nelson Cruz is also something the Twins have expressed interest in.
While the Twins’ payroll was going to be near $140 million last year before it was pro-rated, it remains to be seen how lost revenues from the pandemic will affect them — and other teams around the league — though the expectation is that many payrolls across MLB will be down.
The decision to non-tender Wisler comes as much more of a surprise after Wisler had a breakout season in 2020, his first year in Minnesota. Wisler, the slider specialist, posted a 1.07 earned-run average in 25 1/3 innings pitched.
He filled in in a variety of roles for the Twins, serving as an opener on multiple occasions while also eating up the middle innings and recording a save. President of baseball operations Derek Falvey did not rule out a potential reunion.
This comes as the Twins lost one of their other high-leverage relievers — Trevor May — to free agency. May’s two-year deal with the Mets became official on Wednesday. May expressed his gratitude both to the organization and Twins fans on Twitter on Wednesday night.
“Thank you. To the Twins org for the many opportunities, to my family and friends for the continuous support and belief, and most of all, to the fans for EVERYTHING,” he tweeted. “One more time, and maybe not the last time, Go Twins!”