Dodgers acquire Rosario from Guardians for Syndergaard

July 27th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- With six days still to go before the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline, the Dodgers have wasted no time in proving that they are going to be one of the most aggressive teams before 3 p.m. PT on Tuesday.

After landing utilityman Kiké Hernández from the Red Sox on Tuesday, the Dodgers acquired shortstop from the Guardians on Wednesday in exchange for right-hander  and cash considerations. 

Rosario, a 27-year-old from the Dominican Republic, gives the Dodgers another right-handed bat to play against lefties. Even by adding Hernández on Tuesday, the Dodgers got another close look at how much they need to improve against southpaws in the 8-1 loss to the Blue Jays and Yusei Kikuchi on Wednesday.

While Rosario has struggled offensively yet again this season, he has proved to be a good option against lefties. He has a .816 OPS over his career against lefties and an .822 clip this season.

“I know he’s a heck of a ballplayer,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, speaking after Wednesday's game before the deal for Rosario was official.

Rosario’s fit defensively is a little bit more of a mystery for the Dodgers. The 27-year-old, who is a free agent at the end of the season, has been one of the worst defensive shortstops in the Majors this year with a -15 defensive runs saved, per FanGraphs, the highest at the position. Miguel Rojas, while struggling at the plate, gives the Dodgers a better option defensively.

A couple of options could be to play Rosario in center field, but that could take James Outman, who is arguably a better contact hitter against lefties, out of the lineup. With Hernández also in the fold, it could create a bit of a logjam. Yonny Hernandez is set to return to Triple-A Oklahoma City to make room for Rosario when Rosario is added to the roster.

The Dodgers believe they can make all the pieces fit over the next two months. They wanted to upgrade their bench and they’ve been able to do that, at least on paper, with Hernández and Rosario.

A bonus of the deal, however, is dealing away Syndergaard, who was a disastrous signing for the Dodgers this offseason. The right-hander was expected to be a big piece in the rotation, but instead became a liability before being placed on the injured list last month with what the team called a blister issue. Syndergaard pitched a few rehab games with Triple-A Oklahoma City, but didn’t fare well, posting a 5.40 ERA in two starts.

With plenty of time before Aug. 1, expect the Dodgers to shift their attention to the pitching side now that they’ve made some marginal upgrades on offense. The starting rotation has been one of the worst in the Majors since losing Clayton Kershaw to a left shoulder injury. That’ll be the priority moving forward.

“For the most part, teams are less apt to trade before that 11th hour,” Roberts said. “And so, it’s unique and I think it’s great because all these games matter. So if there’s a player we identify that can help us win now, I applaud that. Right now, we didn’t win today, but getting Kiké acclimated I thought was a good thing.”