'21 NLCS MVP Rosario back with Braves on 2-yr deal

March 16th, 2022

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Eddie Rosario has rejoined the Braves in hopes of once again helping them win a World Series.

The Braves announced on Wednesday that Rosario has signed a two-year, $18 million contract. By bringing back the MVP of last year’s National League Championship Series, the defending World Series champions have filled their need for a middle-of-the-lineup, left-handed-hitting outfielder.

“Getting a left-handed bat was important,” president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said. “Last year was the most balanced our lineup was. Just having a contact bat was important, too. I’m excited he wanted to be back.”

Rosario quickly became a fan favorite. The 30-year-old batted .271 with seven homers and a .903 OPS in the 33 regular-season games he played after being acquired from Cleveland on July 30. He batted .383 with a 1.073 OPS during the postseason and was named NLCS MVP after going 14-for-25 with three homers in six games against the Dodgers.

“Throughout the process, [Rosario] expressed to me that we were his first choice,” Anthopoulos said.

With Rosario drawing a $9 million salary each of the next two seasons, he could prove to be a bargain. He combined to hit 51 homers from 2017-18 and then belted a career-high 32 homers for the Twins in 2019. His 13 homers during the COVID-shortened 2020 season put him on a 35-homer pace.

“What he did with us was well above what he had done in his career,” Anthopoulos said, “so I don’t think it’s fair to expect that. But if you look consistently [at his time] with the Twins, he had high .700s and low .800s OPS, low strikeouts and power. That’s a quality player to have."

Also on Wednesday, the Braves signed left-handed-hitting outfielder Alex Dickerson to a non-guaranteed one-year, $1 million MLB contract. Dickerson has a Minor League option remaining, but he is a top candidate for a bench spot.

Dickerson produced a .879 OPS while combining for 360 plate appearances for the Padres and Giants from 2019-20. But his production declined last season, when he hit .233 with 13 homers and a .724 OPS in 312 plate appearances for San Francisco.

Rosario joins Ronald Acuña Jr., Adam Duvall, Marcell Ozuna, Guillermo Heredia and Dickerson as the top outfield candidates. Acuña might not be cleared to return from a torn right ACL until a few weeks into the season.

As for Ozuna, he seems to be best suited for the DH role, but he could occasionally play left field when Rosario or one of the other primary outfielders needs a break.