Why the Cleveland Guardians shouldn't trade Amed Rosario

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

He’s 27, is a career .274 hitter who had a 4.2 WAR last season. He’s a reliable piece of a Cleveland Guardians 40-man roster filled with inexperience and rookies who’s played 294 games over the last two seasons with the Guardians and is entering the prime of his career. He even has a 97.2% fielding percentage during his six-year major-league career at shortstop, left field and center field. He’s the type of dependable, talented major leaguer, acquired through the Francisco Lindor trade, that you yearn for on your roster.

Can we please stop talking about trading him? Please? Look, I get it. Amed Rosario is one of the highest-paid players in Cleveland. After avoiding arbitration, the Guardians will pay Rosario $7.8 million in his final year under contract. That would mean he’d hit the market after this season and likely sign elsewhere, leading to this - one way or another - likely being Rosario’s last season in Cleveland. I get the push to trade Rosario prior to the start of the season, especially to the Los Angeles Dodgers after the season-ending injury to Gavin Lux. 

Rosario provides teams with an extremely reliable, dynamic stopgap or long-term option if they’d want to extend him. He can consistently collect hits and is a vacuum at shortstop with a terrific arm. And teams can most likely be able to acquire him without parting ways with a top-tier prospect or current major-league talent. 

I also understand why it seems favorable to the Guardians to part ways with him and add a promising prospect that is in the lower levels of the minor-league system to free up a spot on the 40-man roster and make way for the talented group of middle infielders quickly banging down the door to Cleveland. Thirty percent of the 40-man roster right now is infielders, though some of them are corner infielders and others, like Gabriel Arias, are fairly versatile and can be moved elsewhere. Rosario is the oldest man in that group, and the highest paid, so it makes sense to see him as the odd man out. 

Why not part ways with him, acquire a talented prospect with tons of upside for 2025-26, and let the younger kids play? It’s a tempting idea, especially if there really is no plan to even try and keep Rosario past this season, but one that is fairly short-sighted. The Guardians are a bargain-bag team that has shown a willingness to trade key talent to extend a championship window. A Rosario trade wouldn’t be out of nowhere for this front office. I just don’t think it’s the right move right now.

Cleveland is a defending division champion and wild-card winner. It has a real chance to win another AL Central championship in a division that is still home to two rebuilding teams and two teams just trying to fight to a .500 record. The crown, and an improvement on the 92-win season from last year, is well within reach, and the addition of Josh Bell shows the front office feels like they are just a few pieces away from a team that can seriously compete for a World Series. Trading Rosario is the old thinking that got Cleveland to the point it is at right now, one chock-full of top prospects and bursting with talent.

But this isn’t a team trying to extend a closing championship window, nor is it one kicking the can down the road and loading its war chest for later. This team, despite its youth and obvious holes, is in win-now mode. Trading Rosario for someone that can help the Guardians in three or four years is a nice idea, but it doesn’t demonstrate that they are willing to go all-in for a championship. Rosario won’t win you anything on his own, but placing the shortstop or second base position in the hands of rookies who still need to work out the kinks of being a major leaguer will prove disastrous for Cleveland.

If the July 31 trade deadline comes around and Cleveland is well out of contention, then by all means, trade away. It’s just not the right move right now.