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Zulgad: Should he stay or should he go? Why Eddie Rosario’s time with the Twins might be up

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Minnesota Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario slides to make a catch of a ball hit by Kansas City Royals’ Hunter Dozier and throws out the runner who ran on the play for a double play in the sixth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

The Twins said goodbye to reliever Trevor May on Tuesday when he agreed to a deal with the New York Mets. May might want to hold the door on his way out of Target Field for another former teammate.

Left fielder Eddie Rosario, who would thrill you one moment and frustrate you the next, could find himself being non-tendered by the Twins on Wednesday, as the the deadline arrives for clubs to tender their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players a contract offer for the 2021 season. A failure by Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey to make Rosario an offer by the 7 p.m. deadline will make him a free agent.

This might seem like a drastic move for a player who had a career-high 32 home runs in 2019 — the same season he labeled the Twins the Bomba Squad — but this is an offseason in which drastic moves figure to be made based on the loss of revenue from the recently completed pandemic-shortened season.

The Twins were originally set to enter the 2020 season with a payroll of about $133 million, according to FanGraphs. But it’s a safe bet that with no fans in attendance for games and plenty of unknowns for 2021, that figure will shrink by a significant amount. That’s likely true for many organizations.

Rosario’s salary increased from $4.19 million in 2019 to $7.75 million in 2020 (that was the amount he would have been paid in a 162-game season) as he avoided arbitration, but the Twins might not want to chance going to arbitration with Rosario and losing. One projection has his salary at $9.6 million for 2021 but another goes as high as $12.9 million. Even if the Twins settled with Rosario before arbitration, it would cost them.

Rosario has slashed .277/.310/.478 with 119 home runs and 388 RBIs in 697 games over six seasons in Minnesota. Last season, he hit .257/.316/.476 with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs in 57 games. Rosario was 0-for-7 in the Twins’ two playoff losses to the Houston Astros at Target Field.

The 29-year-old brings plenty of excitement to the ballpark but it’s not always good. Rosario has a big arm but his mistakes at the plate (he’s a low on-base guy) and in the outfield (throwing to the wrong base, not being aware of the ground rules at Target Field) are hard to overlook. If the Twins have shopped Rosario, they haven’t found any takers and so now it’s decision time.

The decision might be made easier by the fact that the Twins have one of their top prospects, Alex Kirilloff, ready to go and are looking for a place to play him. Kirilloff, who made his big-league debut in the Twins’ second playoff game against Houston, could be plugged into the lineup playing left field alongside Byron Buxton and Max Kepler.

Best case, the Twins could use the money they save on Rosario to pursue another free agent. Perhaps a pitcher. Worst case, the Twins will point to the lost revenues from 2020 and pocket the savings. Either way, it looks as if Rosario’s time in Minnesota could be coming to an end.