Yankees Should Check In on Ex-Rockies Catcher Wilin Rosario
After a year away, playing in Korea’s KBO, Wilin Rosario is hungry for another shot at the majors. Perhaps he could be of use to the Yankees.
Last January, I was surprised to learn that Rosario, a guy that finished 4th in the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award voting was taking his talent’s to Korea. According to sources, he was doing so to refine his skills as a catcher, as the previous season in Colorado, the club deemed him only useful enough to take part in 87 games (53 of which were at first base).
True, Rosario has never been a world class defender (30 errors and a 28% opponents stolen base percentage in five seasons), but this is a 27-year-old guy who can flat out mash when given the opportunity.
During his first two full seasons in the majors, Rosario compiled a .282/.314/.507 slash line to go along with 49 home runs and a 150 RBI in just 892 plate appearances.
Yet for reasons unbeknownst to many, Rosario struggled through 2014, only able to hit .264, with 13 home runs and 54 RBI. Strangely enough, he did decrease his strikeouts in 2014 from 109 to 70. Even his overall numbers in ’15 (.268 BA, 6 HR and 29 RBI) should have been good enough for him to hook on with some club as a backup the following year.
Clearly, Rosario was not content with that possibility, as he headed overseas to work on his game with the Hanwha Eagles. Now we all know that the pitching in the KBO isn’t exactly world class, but anytime a player can put together a .321/.367/.593 batting line with 33 home runs in 532 plate appearances, is enough for teams in North America to take notice.
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As for where he could benefit the Yankees–at any number of places really. The organization is still undecided on the fate of Brian McCann. Will he stay or will he go? The trickle down effect will also impact Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka to some extent.
Knowing that it’s Rosario desire to catch–which will more than likely have an impact on how well he hits, could be enough ammo for the Yankees to pull the trigger on a trade of one of their veteran backstops (Higashioka is 26, having spent 9 seasons in the minors–he’s a veteran at this point).
How much will the Yankees really require someone not named Gary Sanchez to catch anyway? Once every 10-days or so? Besides, you can never have enough power bats on the bench to plug into late innings situations that call for a run to be driven in. Sacrificing a bit defensively, on those days Sanchez rests would be more than made up with Rosario’s stick.
Rosario could also be a nice insurance policy at first base in the event Greg Bird starts off the new season slowly, or Tyler Austin was to be dealt for a pitcher–which would directly affect the Yankees’ ability to trot out a DH with pop.
Now I’m not advocating for any trades of young controllable players that the Yankees still need to get a read on for future iterations of this team–rather I’d like to stock the cupboard for once, in lieu of signing guys off the street after an injury or two forces the front office’s hand.
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How many 27-year-old bats will be on the open market this winter that has not only hit 20+ home runs twice in a season but can be signed for around $1MM? Not many.