CLEVELAND – Amed Rosario was never viewed as Cleveland's long-term shortstop — more of a temporary fix.
On Wednesday, he became a former one.
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 major needs for both contending clubs.
Rosario came to Cleveland from the New York Mets in the blockbuster deal for Francisco Lindor a few years back. And while he has been a reliable player and leader for the defending AL Central champions, the Guardians felt it was time to turn to their future.
Rosario started slowly at the plate this season, but is batting .265 with six triples, three homers and 40 RBIs. However, his defense has been lacking — he's ranked among baseball's worst shortstops in several categories — and the Guardians feel it's better to see what Freeman and Arias can do.
“We felt that this made sense for us and now is the right time to give Gabby and Tyler some more opportunities,” said Chris Antonetti, Cleveland's president of baseball operations. “We also wanted to be respectful to Amed. We recognize his place on our team and as a veteran leader and his expectations of himself and transitioning him to a lesser role would had an impact on him and the team and we were very mindful about doing that.”
Rosario, who is eligible for free agency this winter, has been the subject of trade speculation for months, and Wednesday he sat out 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, in effect equalizing the salaries. Syndergaard is owed $4,682,795 from his $13 million salary and Rosario is owed $2,809,677 from his $7.8 million deal.
The move shores up the Dodgers' current issues at shortstop.
All-Star Mookie Betts has played some short, but he's the team’s primary right fielder. The Dodgers found themselves in need after Gavin Lux went down with a season-ending knee injury in spring training and Miguel Rojas has struggled offensively at the spot.
On Tuesday, the NL West-leading Dodgers acquired utilityman Kiké Hernández from the Boston Red Sox.
“I know he’s a heck of a ballplayer,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the deal was finalized. "I do know that I like him as a ballplayer.”
Cleveland, which trails first-place Minnesota by two games, needed to add a pitcher with starters Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill all dealing with injuries.
The 30-year-old Syndergaard should be able to eat up some innings for Cleveland — if he's healthy. He's been on the injured 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 not clear when he'll make his debut.
Earning the nickname “Thor” with a devastating fastball and long, blond hair, Syndergaard was once one of the game's rising pitching stars. However, injuries have sidetracked his career. He signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers before the season and posted a 7.16 ERA in 12 starts before getting hurt.
The Guardians have been leaning on rookies Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams and Logan Allen and the club needs to closely monitor their workloads down the stretch. They're hoping Syndergaad can help.
Antonetti said the club will recall outfielder Oscar Gonzalez from Triple-A Columbus to fill Rosario's roster spot. Gonzalez, who was a postseason star for Cleveland in 2022, was sent to the minors after batting .192 in 25 games.
AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this report.