Amed Rosario was never seen as Cleveland’s long-term shortstop, more of a temporary fix.
On Wednesday, he became ex.
Eager to give young infielders Tyler Freeman and Gabriel Arias more playing time, the Guardians traded Rosario to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher Noah Syndergaard and nearly $1.9 million in a deal that addresses the major needs of both contending clubs.
Rosario came to Cleveland from the New York Mets in the successful trade for Francisco Lindor a few years ago. And while he’s been a dependable player and leader for the defending AL Central champions, the Guardians felt it was time to focus on his future.
Rosario started slow at the plate this season, but he’s hitting .265 with six triples, three home runs and 40 RBIs. His defense, however, has been lacking — he’s ranked among the worst shortstops in baseball in several categories — and the Guardians feel it’s best to see what Freeman and Arias can do.
“We felt like this made sense for us and now is the right time to give Gabby and Tyler more opportunities,” said Chris Antonetti, Cleveland’s president of baseball operations. “We also wanted to be respectful of Amed. We recognize his place on our team and as a veteran leader and his expectations of himself and the transition to a lesser role would have an impact on him and the team and we were very conscious of doing that.”
Rosario, who is eligible for free agency this winter, has been the subject of trade speculation for months, and on Wednesday he did not play in Cleveland’s 8-3 win over Kansas City. Arias started at shortstop and had two hits.
The Dodgers are sending Cleveland $1,873,118 as part of the trade, effectively matching salaries. Syndergaard is owed $4,682,795 of his $13 million salary and Rosario is owed $2,809,677 of his $7.8 million contract.
The move underpins the Dodgers’ current woes at shortstop.
All-Star Mookie Betts has played a bit short, but he’s the team’s primary right fielder. The Dodgers found themselves in need after Gavin Lux suffered a season-ending knee injury in spring training and Miguel Rojas has struggled offensively in place.
On Tuesday, the National League West-leading Dodgers acquired utility man Kiké Hernández from the Boston Red Sox.
“I know he’s a great player,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the deal was finalized. “I know I like him as a baseball player.”
Cleveland, which is two games behind first-place Minnesota, needed to add a pitcher with starters Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill all dealing with injuries.
Syndergaard, 30, should be able to eat a few tickets to Cleveland, if he’s healthy. He has been on the disabled list with a blister on his right index finger since early June and pitching in rehab games for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Antonetti said Syndergaard is ready to join Cleveland’s rotation. The right-hander will join the Guardians in Chicago on Thursday for the opener of a four-game series, but it’s unclear when he’ll make his debut.
Earned the nickname “Thor” with a devastating fastball and long blonde hair, Syndergaard was once one of the game’s rising pitching stars. However, injuries have sidelined his career. He signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers before the season and posted a 7.16 ERA in 12 starts before getting hurt.
The Guardians have relied on rookies Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams and Logan Allen and the club needs to closely monitor their workloads down the stretch. They hope Syndergaad can help.
Antonetti said the club will call up outfielder Oscar González from Triple-A Columbus to fill Rosario’s roster spot. González, who was a postseason star for Cleveland in 2022, was sent down to the minors after hitting .192 in 25 games.