Cleveland Guardians could get most out of Amed Rosario in contract year
While not exactly scenitific and mostly rooted in conjecture, the contract year presents an opportunity for a player to set himself up for a big payday, with his current team reaping the rewards of a player playing a tick or two higher than the norm. Considering the steady, consistent presence of Amed Rosario over the last two seasons, it appears that both parties could benefit if the shortstop follows in the footsteps of so many others in a contract year.
The first two seasons in Cleveland have seen very simliar results for Rosario at the plate, with a .282/.321/.409/.731 super slash in 2021 and .283/.312/.403/.715 in 2022. According to FanGraphs, Rosario's 2022 edges out 2021 in the weighted runs created plus department (103-99). It was one of the best seasons in the career of the young shortstop with 2019's 101 wRC+ with the Mets his only other year above double-digits. Even though these are not the most exciting slash lines or wRC+ numbers, they are solid baselines that are required when putting together a productive lineup.
Rosario ranked sixth in wRC+ among Guardians who appeared in at least 90 games last season, trailing only Andrés Giménez (140), José Ramírez (139), Steven Kwan (124), Oscar Gonzalez (122), and Josh Naylor (117). Even though there may be a correction of sorts for a couple of last season's leaders, Rosario's relative consistency over the course of his career suggests a similar performance for this upcoming season.
The opportunity of a new contract could see Rosario outperforming his previous two seasons in Cleveland. This is based on the mythical contract year coming to fruition and is not rooted in anything tangible. The hope for both parties is a season of over-performance, resulting in a productive season for the Guardians while a hefty payday awaits the soon-to-be free agent.
Projections, not including said mythical contract year boost, have Rosario performing at a similar level. Steamer projects a 106 wRC+ with a .277/.314/.412 slash line in 143 games. ZiPS has Rosario down for a .276/.309/.400 slash and 101 wRC+ with a slightly higher amount of games played (152).Baseball Reference's projection has Rosario slashing .276/.314/.400 with a .714 OPS in 594 plate appearances, fewer than Steamer (640) and ZiPS (637).
Even if Rosario's 2023 is more like the projected stat lines and does not have a contract year bump, it would still be a productive year all around. Rosario would be setting up others for success and help in the Guardians' quest to win a second straight division title. If Cleveland struggles and finds themselves back in the standings, Rosario would present an intriguing trade piece for contending clubs. Performing as projected or over-performing would help the Guardians in one way or another, and at the end of the day that is what matters.