As mentioned with gusto elsewhere, Noah Syndergaard was absolutely terrible in 2023, both for and against the Dodgers. But for Dodger fans, there was one silver lining of Syndergaard’s season: the Dodgers traded him to the Cleveland Guardians for Amed Rosario.
Rosario started the year with the Guardians in the final year of his contract, after failing to reach a contract extension with Cleveland during spring training. Unfortunately for Rosario, his offensive production dipped slightly from his career norms with a career-low .675 OPS over 94 games at the trade deadline.
The main reason that the denizens of The Land soured on Rosario was his defense at shortstop, which was worst in the major leagues per Statcast at a negative-16 defensive runs saved. Reports prior to the trade indicated that Rosario’s confidence was shaken as a result of his poor defense at shortstop.
Still, at the time of the trade, Rosario had a slash line of .265/.306/.369 for the Guardians, which was still in line with his career averages.
As such, with the influx of farmhands in Cleveland, Rosario was expendable. On July 26, the Dodgers and Guardians swapped their respective struggling players in Syndergaard and Rosario in a one-to-one swap that included the Dodgers sending approximately $1,873,118 to cover the difference in salary.
However, the Dodgers acquired Rosario for a primary reason: Rosario was and remained a lefty masher with a .822 OPS against lefties at the trade deadline, which ultimately dipped to .768 at the end of the year.
After the trade, the Dodgers did the sensible thing with Rosario: the team mostly played Rosario as a lefty masher at second base. For the most part, the Dodgers’ plan worked as Rosario mashed lefties while logging most of his innings at second base.
As an aside, Rosario’s defense was pretty good, as per Statcast, in 190 innings, Rosario had three defensive runs saved at second base.
For the low, low price of an exiled Syndergaard, the Dodgers received some much-needed pop off the bench and had some extra pieces to use in matchups down the stretch to clinch the division in Seattle, nearly hitting for the cycle the day after the Dodgers clinched.
Unfortunately for Rosario and the Dodgers, come the postseason, the Dodgers inexplicably left Rosario off the NLDS roster in favor of Kolten Wong, which ultimately meant that Rosario’s offseason started about a week early.
Rosario enters free agency and is unlikely to return to Los Angeles due to the influx of young players coming or returning to Los Angeles, including Gavin Lux. Still, for a 2023 season that could have gone quickly off the rails, Rosario likely did enough to merit another gig in the major leagues in the coming year.
Stats: .256/.301/.408, 93 wRC+, 3 HR, 18 RBI, 6 SB, 48 G with Dodgers
Salary: $7.8 million, of which the Dodgers were responsible for $2,809,677
Game of the Year
Did I mention that Rosario nearly hit for the cycle?
Rosario was a homer shy of the cycle as he went 3 for 4 in the finale of the Seattle series on September 17, as he hit a triple, double, and single in his first three at-bats. What is ironic enough to remember is that there was a home run hit in the inning when Rosario had his last at-bat.
Unfortunately for Rosario, James Outman homered immediately before Rosario’s at bat. Rosario ended up grounding out and the cycle bid was essentially. It was still a neat thing to see live though.