Among the better relief pitchers on the free-agent market this offseason is Trevor Rosenthal. The 30-year-old is coming off a very productive season with the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres. In 23 and two-thirds innings, Rosenthal posted a 1.90 ERA and struck out 14.5 batters per nine innings. Both are the best rates of his career. Rosenthal was especially dominant after being traded to San Diego. As a Padre, he struck out 17 batters in 10 innings without allowing an earned run. Should his effectiveness continue into his 30’s, Rosenthal will continue to be an important major league bullpen piece.
Rosenthal, a hard-throwing right-hander, mixes a fastball that sits around 98 mph with a slider and a changeup. He came up with the St. Louis Cardinals and established himself at the back end of their bullpen in 2013. After an All-Star 2015 season, an elbow injury caused him to tail off. After Tommy John surgery and brief stints with three other teams, he signed with Kansas City for the 2020 season. Rosenthal had a terrific bounce-back season, putting his career back on track. Now, Rosenthal will look to ink a deal with a team needing some back-end bullpen help. Here are five potential destinations for Trevor Rosenthal.
With an alarming 7.06 bullpen ERA, the Philadelphia Phillies had the worst bullpen in baseball last year. For a team that finished merely a game out of a playoff spot, this is a glaring weakness that needs fixing. With the contracts of Brandon Workman and Tommy Hunter coming off the books, this offseason provides a clear opportunity for Philadelphia to upgrade its bullpen.
Trevor Rosenthal would be a top-notch closing option to go alongside Hector Neris and Blake Parker. At the very least, he would boost manager Joe Girardi’s confidence in his team closing out ball games. Adding a guy like Rosenthal could make Philadelphia a true NL East contender in the near future.
The Houston Astros‘ bullpen put together a surprisingly good season last year, considering closer Roberto Osuna’s injury issues forced him to miss nearly the whole season. Ryan Pressly, Andre Scrubb, and Blake Taylor were among the pitchers who picked up the slack, resulting in a reliever ERA of 4.39, around league average. Houston should be eyeing an arm to bolster this young bullpen, and Trevor Rosenthal could be the man for the job. Pressly was the best of the bunch saving 75% of his chances.
Rosenthal would become the top dog in the Houston bullpen right away. Rosenthal would be a veteran, lockdown closer to seal games in Houston.
San Diego Padres
The Padres acquired Rosenthal at the 2020 trade deadline, and the move paid off. This offseason, however, Rosenthal and closer Kirby Yates enter free agency, leaving the San Diego bullpen in flux. Bringing Rosenthal back would be crucial if Yates moves on.
The Padres had a strong bullpen in 2020 behind a committee which included Drew Pomeranz, Matt Strahm, and Emilio Pagan. San Diego had the highest reliever win percentage in the NL, indicating an ability to keep games close and finish them off effectively. Rosenthal added consistency and depth to the bullpen. The Padres bullpen was one of the best in baseball down the stretch. With the Padres hoping to compete again in 2021, securing Trevor Rosenthal as the closer makes a lot of sense.
The Arizona Diamondbacks traded away Archie Bradley at the 2020 trade deadline, leaving a major hole at closer. Stefan Crichton filled in nicely converting five saves in seven opportunities. The Diamondbacks bullpen was below average in both ERA (4.60) and strikeouts to walk ratio (1.94). Upgrading the bullpen will be a top priority for Arizona this offseason, and Rosenthal seems like a reasonable man to target.
Arizona could pair Rosenthal with Crichton to form a dominant 1-2 punch at the back end of the bullpen. If both guys pitch to their shown potential, the Arizona bullpen could go from mediocre to one of the better units in the NL.
The Seattle Mariners had the worst bullpen ERA (5.92) and strikeout to walk ratio (1.63) in the AL in 2020. After sending Taylor Williams to San Diego in August, the Mariners will be looking for a closer this winter. Trevor Rosenthal would be a good option to shore up a weak Seattle bullpen.
Seattle was only two games behind Houston for the second AL West playoff spot in 2020. With Kyle Lewis and Marco Gonzales leading the offense and pitching, respectively, the Mariners aren’t far off from competing in the AL. Signing Trevor Rosenthal would bolster the roster and give Seattle a more complete team going into the 2021 season.
Free-agent Trevor Rosenthal is a relatively safe option for any team in need of bullpen help. In 2020, he rejuvenated his career and showed that he can be one of the more dominant relievers in baseball. Aside from these five teams, Rosenthal is a fit for many more. Relief pitchers are hard to predict. Whoever signs him will be banking on that dominance continuing for the next few years.
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