Two years ago he was the first free agent signing of the offseason. After hitting rock bottom and pulling himself up by the boot straps, Trevor Rosenthal is back.
For Rosenthal, what a journey the last two years have been. If all goes as expected he’ll be signing another major league contract this offseason, one which could pay him about the same as what he made when the Nationals brought him aboard.
Coming off of Tommy John surgery which cost him the entire 2018 season, teams didn’t entirely know what to expect from the former All-Star closer. Rosenthal auditioned in front of numerous scouts prior to the opening of free agency, and multiple Nationals scouts liked what they saw. Rosenthal was signed to a one year/$7M deal, with a conditional option for the second year.
With all the anticipation of him taking over the eighth inning job for the Nationals came the letdown of him allowing baserunner after baserunner once the season began. All told, Rosenthal walked 15 batters in six-plus innings, being released from the team in June with a 22.74 earned run average.
A flailing Detroit Tigers team pounced six days later and brought him in cheap, only to have him walk nearly as many hitters in less games. They kicked him to the curb in August. The New York Yankees signed him to a minor league contract, though he didn’t appear in the big leagues.
A year after signing a guaranteed major league deal, Rosenthal was relegated to a minor league pact with an invitation to spring training in 2020.
Rosenthal righted the ship in 13.2 innings with the Kansas City Royals, walking just seven hitters while striking out 21 and recapturing the closer mentality he displayed earlier in his career.
The Royals traded Rosenthal to the San Diego Padres where he went 1-0 with 4 saves, while striking out 17 and not allowing a run in ten innings of work.
As he enters free agency this offseason, Rosenthal is ranked by mlbtraderumors.com as the 27th best free agent. They anticipate Rosenthal will secure a multi-year deal paying him something in the $14M range.
For a guy who went from three teams in one season to a minor league contract the next, Trevor Rosenthal has reestablished himself as a quality reliever again, in just under two years.
While the Washington Nationals are highly unlikely to shell out the money Rosenthal commands this offseason, there should be a handful of teams willing to pay to bolster their bullpen.