The Cleveland Guardians need to keep Amed Rosario for at least another season

Division Series - Cleveland Guardians v New York Yankees - Game Five
Division Series - Cleveland Guardians v New York Yankees - Game Five / Elsa/GettyImages

Arbitration season is nearly upon us, and the Cleveland Guardians are currently looking at seven players who are eligible, including James Karinchak, Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, Shane Bieber, Josh Naylor, Cal Quantrill, and Amed Rosario.

These are all pretty much no-brainers to be re-signed (even as Civale and Plesac are positioned as potential trade bait), but Rosario remains one of the more polarizing players on the Guardians roster.

MLB Trade Rumors pegs Rosario to make somewhere around $9 million in 2023, which might feel a bit steep for a player who is essentially right around league average. Over the past two years in Cleveland, Rosario has had a 103 OPS+, averaging a .282/.316/.406 slash line.

With so much young middle infield talent waiting in the wings throughout the minor-league system, this isn't exactly an endorsement of Rosario as the team's shortstop of the future. But the Guardians aren't in a position to move on from Rosario at this point either, as the talent they do have just isn't ready, and this is no longer the time to "see how it goes" playing a bunch of rookies.

Cleveland is firmly a contender now, and Rosario is the perfect stopgap solution for at least another season. The 27-year-old is a free agent after the 2023 season, and there would no doubt be a team out there willing to pay Rosario, so the Guardians would be smart to even consider extending him through 2024 as well if possible, giving the team more flexibility and time to figure out what to do.

Any lineup would gladly welcome a league-average bat, especially one that, when hot, could carry the offense for a week or so during the season. Plus, it sure doesn't hurt that Rosario is a beloved clubhouse presence who is close with José Ramírez. Giving Rosario, say, a two-year deal at maybe $11 million a year with a third-year option could do a lot to keep the good times rolling with this promising core the Guardians have built.