The Amed Rosario era is officially over in Cleveland, which will probably elicit some complicated feelings for many Guardians fans.
Rosario was the definition of a streaky hitter, with infuriating stretches that could be offset by a blisteringly hot couple of weeks. The wheels started to fall off there a bit in 2023, and it was only magnified by the fact that Rosario was, by most statistical measures, the worst defensive infielder in baseball.
All of those issues were compounded by the fact that the Guardians are flush with middle infield prospects, and Rosario - who is a free agent at season's end - was more or less blocking the path to regular playing time for guys like Gabriel Arias and Tyler Freeman.
So ultimately, the Guardians opted to trade Rosario to the Los Angeles Dodgers this past week, netting in return pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who is currently on the IL with a blister injury but will pitch in the rotation this coming week and, ideally, eat up some innings down the stretch to preserve the arms of the team's numerous rookies.
This is not the Noah Syndergaard from years past that you remember. This version had a 7.16 ERA in 12 starts for the Dodgers this season, and is now with his fifth team within the past three years. The 30-year-old's fastball is reaching anemic levels, and he'll now have to become a completely different pitcher to continue to be effective in the majors.
In that regard, Cleveland, a known pitching factory as many people like to describe it, could be the perfect place for a Syndergaard renaissance.
You might be wondering though how the Guardians could have gotten so little for Rosario, who was hitting .301 since June 1. Like all trades, other teams know the value of players on other teams; every potential trade partner knew Rosario's defensive limitations. Nobody was going to give up a top prospect in a deal for him, especially since interested teams - such as the Dodgers - would likely be utilizing Rosario in a platoon role (he's hitting .304 against lefties, and just .253 against right-handers this season).
Rosario finishes his Cleveland career with a .278/.314/.397 line with 25 home runs and a 99 OPS+ across three seasons. He was the very definition of league average, which is by no means an indictment of his time with the Guardians. Hopefully he'll be remembered as the guy who helped usher in a new era of the team, as he clearly had an impactful clubhouse presence. And, assuming one of these young prospects seizes the opportunity, Rosario will have served the all-important role of bridging the gap before a highly-touted prospect - like, say, Brayan Rocchio - was ready to take the reins.
This was more or less a move by the Guardians to free up playing time for their younger players, to finally see who could potentially become a reliable infielder moving forward. Will it be Arias, who will finally see regular at-bats? Or will a guy like Freeman or Rocchio eventually step up and separate themselves from the pack? There are a lot of questions to be answered, but the Guardians are now one step closer to getting some answers without sacrificing a chance to still win the AL Central this season and beyond.