Tribe finalizes deal with longtime foe Rosario

Reunion with Hernandez also becomes official as Indians reload for '21

February 5th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- When the Tribe decided to trade Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets last month, Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said that the club's focus would be to reinvest some of the savings back into the 2021 roster. Now, he has made that a reality.

The Indians on Thursday announced the signing of free-agent outfielder to a one-year deal. The club hasn't confirmed financial parameters, but a source told's Mark Feinsand that the pact is for $8 million.

“We think he fits in really well and adds a quality Major League outfielder to our mix,” Antonetti said. “We’re still working through whether or not he will play left field or right field, something we’ll work through in Spring Training. But we see him as a capable defender at either spot, and he’s open to playing either position.”

After a year in which Tribe outfielders logged the lowest slugging percentage in the Majors, it was clear the team could use another bat, and Rosario may have been the best fit of anyone on the free-agent market.

Cleveland has seen plenty of Rosario over his six years with the Twins, and the team will certainly welcome the idea of having his bat in the lineup as opposed to finding a way to pitch around him. In 45 games at Progressive Field, Rosario has hit .353 with a 1.031 OPS (his highest OPS in any road ballpark he visited at least seven times). Rosario’s 11 homers, 12 doubles and three triples in Cleveland are the most he’s had in any road ballpark, while his 25 RBIs trail only his 26 at Comerica Park in Detroit.

“It’s nice to have him on this side of the ball at this point,” Antonetti said with a laugh. “I’ve had many years and many memories of him hitting pitches from all different locations out of the ballpark against us, so it will be good to have his bat in our lineup.”

Rosario slashed .277/.310/.478 over six seasons with Minnesota while posting an OPS+ of over 100 in five of those six. He’ll certainly be in one of the Tribe’s corner outfield spots, leaving , , , , and eventually Indians top prospect Nolan Jones to choose from in the other corner.

Hernandez deal also becomes official

The news that Rosario would be joining the Tribe first broke just hours after the club finalized its one-year deal to bring back free-agent second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Both Hernandez and the club expressed hopes of a reunion at the end of last season. Hernandez was excellent for Cleveland in 2020, hitting .283 with a .763 OPS, an American League-best 20 doubles, three homers and 20 RBIs in 58 games. He also won his first career Gold Glove Award.

“I think I shared with this group at the end of the season [that] we would love for Cesar to come back,” Antonetti said. "I wasn’t quite sure how that would happen, given our financial situation at the time. But because of the moves we executed earlier, we were able to bring Cesar back and we are elated. He brought so much to our team last year offensively, defensively, on the bases and in the clubhouse, so we’re excited to welcome him back.”

The Indians also announced Thursday that the club re-signed utility man to a Minor League deal, after signing righties Bryan Shaw and DJ Johnson on Wednesday. The three received non-roster invitations to big league Spring Training, along with righties Kyle Dowdy and Nick Sandlin, lefty Anthony Gose, catchers Gavin Collins and Bo Naylor and shortstops Tyler Freeman and Owen Miller.

“Obviously [Shaw] was a stabilizing presence in our bullpen for the better part of the decade,” Antonetti said. “To bring him back, we're looking forward to having him back in the fold and having him come compete for a spot in the bullpen. We know when he's at his best, he has a chance to be a really effective and durable reliever out there. Hopefully he can get back to that point and be a contributor for us once the season starts.”