Amed Rosario Could Be the Best Bargain Buy of the Offseason

Amed Rosario is coming off a down year, but he could prove to be a steal for whichever team takes a chance on him in free agency.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Amed Rosario #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers exits the field after the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on September 22, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

If I showed you the 2023-24 middle infield free agent class just a couple of years ago, you would have been pretty impressed. A couple of stars, several above-average players, and no shortage of capable contributors. Talk about depth:

Brandon Crawford1406.3
Tim Anderson1184.6
Enrique Hernández1094.0
Adam Frazier1133.5
Jean Segura1103.4
Tony Kemp1283.1
Whit Merrifield893.0
Joey Wendle1053.0
Amed Rosario1022.5
Kolten Wong1092.5
Josh Harrison1042.3
Jonathan Schoop1052.0
2021 stats via FanGraphs

Unfortunately, time can be cruel, and just a couple of short years later, this class is as barren as a tundra. This past season, only three middle infielders from the free agent class were worth more than one Win Above Replacement, per FanGraphs: Whit Merrifield (1.5), Donovan Solano (1.2), and Elvis Andrus (1.1). Of those three, only Andrus actually played the infield in the majority of his games.

Thus, while 12 members of this free agent class were two-win players (or more) as recently as 2021, it wouldn’t be all that controversial to suggest there isn’t a single above-average starting middle infielder available this winter.

However, if there is anyone who could bounce back and provide above-average production for his new club in 2024, it’s Amed Rosario. Indeed, I think the chances are pretty good that he does exactly that.

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A 2023 Season to Forget

Rosario is coming off a dreadful season in 2023. In addition to his poor performance at the plate (.683 OPS, 88 wRC+), he posted some of the worst defensive metrics of his career (-14 OAA at SS), in addition to surprisingly substandard baserunning stats (-2 BsR). All told, the numbers at FanGraphs suggest he was worth just 0.2 Wins Above Replacement, while Baseball Reference is only slightly kinder, offering him 0.4 WAR.

Those numbers aren’t exactly promising, and it’s fair to be scared off by a player who just posted career-worst numbers in several aspects of his game. Still, it’s far too soon to give up on Rosario.

The Past Bodes Well for the Future

The speedy shortstop was a two-plus win player in 2019, 2021, and 2022, putting up an average of 2.6 fWAR per 162 games in those seasons. Even if you include his less-than-impressive numbers from the shortened 2020 campaign, Amed Rosario hit .282 with a 101 wRC+ while averaging 13 home runs per 650 PA over those four years. Combine that with 50 stolen bases and top-flight sprint speed, and you get a pretty solid offensive shortstop.

When it comes to a player as young as Rosario – he only just turned 28 – I’m more inclined to trust 500 games of past performance than one bad season. Besides, from a quick look under the hood, I can’t find any serious warning signs or red flags.

Amed Rosario: Under the Hood

With a 5.3% walk rate and an 18.2% strikeout rate, Amed Rosario actually finished the 2023 season with the highest walk-to-strikeout ratio of his career. What’s more, his expected stats and quality-of-contact numbers hardly changed:

Via Baseball Savant

As for his career-low baserunning value, it’s hard to imagine that’s anything more than an outlier. Rosario remains one of the fastest runners in the league, boasting 95th-percentile sprint speed, and he has a good track record of success on the bases.

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His glove is the biggest question. Rosario has never been a strong defensive shortstop, but his performance last year was especially appalling. On the one hand, it’s unlikely he’ll struggle quite so much next year – numbers that low are hard to repeat. Still, the truth is that he should probably stick to second base going forward, where he looked much more comfortable in a handful of games last season.

That said, if his new team asks him to play shortstop, it’s not necessarily fair to hold that against him – his versatility is still an asset, even if his performance at shortstop brings down his overall WAR.


The Steamer projection system at FanGraphs seems to agree with my assessment, expecting Rosario to bounce back in 2024. He is projected for 2.3 WAR, and in fact, he is one of only five free agent hitters (not including foreign league players) projected to surpass the 2.0 WAR threshold next season.

In theory, a two-win player should expect to earn at least $16 million a year on the open market (it’s a clunky estimation, but it’s good enough for our purposes). Most sources, however, think Rosario will command just $18 million total on a two-year pact. Those are the exact terms predicted by the analysts at FanGraphs and MLB Trade Rumors, as well as the crowdsourced contract figures from FanGraphs readers.

With all those numbers in mind, it’s pretty clear that Rosario is underrated this offseason. Indeed, he might just be the most underrated player in the 2023-24 free agent class.

While Steamer pegs him as one of the more dependable players on the market, MLB Trade Rumors has him ranked just 14th among position players, while FanGraphs has him 20th. Meanwhile, the contract crowdsourcing results from FanGraphs have him tied for 11th among position players in total earnings and 18th in annual average salary.

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SourceRanking (Among Free Agent Position Players)
Steamer Projections4th
MLBTR Top 50 Free Agents14th
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agents20th
Sports Illustrated Top 50 Free Agents14th
The Athletic Top 40 Free AgentsUnranked
ESPN Top 50 Free AgentsUnranked
FanGraphs Contract Crowdsourcing Salary11th
FanGraphs Contract Crowdsourcing AAV18th

Amed Rosario Offers the Best Bang for Your Buck

Rosario doesn’t have the All-Star upside of Tim Anderson, but he’s a better bet to bounce back, and he’s easily the safest and smartest middle infield option in a thin free-agent class. Teams will use his down year in 2023 against him, but Rosario is far from a lost cause or a player in decline.

Amed Rosario isn’t a Cody Bellinger kind of bounce-back candidate; he’s not going to make the GM who signs him look like a genius. However, he’s young, durable, and multi-talented, and he should make his new team very happy with both his performance and his price tag.