Just yesterday, we learned that Twins minor league second baseman Eddie Rosario will likely be hit with a 50-game suspension starting next season for using some sort of PED. We don't know much information right now (including whether the suspension is even official) but Rosario has already notified his winter league team in Puerto Rico, and apparently it was over some pills he took while recovering from arm surgery. Jesse already covered some of these details yesterday.
Rosario is certainly a top prospect, as Twinkie Town readers ranked him the Twins' #4 prospect last week. He was originally an outfielder but switched to second base as the outfield was already crowded, but right now his current position is also blocked, this time by Brian Dozier.
Dozier enjoyed one hell of a breakout season last year, and this has led to some speculation that the Twins may be interested in trading either Dozier or Rosario this offseason to fill some other needs on the major league squad. However, Rosario's suspension may have just quieted some of those trade talks.
The scenarios are pretty easy to figure out. If Dozier were to be traded, Rosario would probably have stepped in sometime in the 2014 season. On the other hand, if Rosario was flipped, it would be a sign that the Twins fully trust that Dozier's breakout this past year was legitimate. Although a trade may no longer happen this winter, I feel that this may be for the best.
Now, if Dozier were to be traded this offseason, the Twins would have to find someone else to step in for a majority of the season, as not only will Rosario's start to the year be delayed because of the suspension, but he'll also be behind as he gets himself into game shape. The Twins would be forced to find a free agent to fill second base, or they would hand it over to someone like Eduardo Escobar (Jason Bartlett???), and I'm not sure any of us want to see him manning a starting spot for half or even two-thirds of the year. Even more, there's no guarantee that Rosario will even become a productive major leaguer. I'm not trying to be pessimistic, that's just the reality of prospects. It would sting an awful lot if Rosario flamed out while Dozier's breakout continued for another squad.
On the flip side, if Rosario was dealt, Dozier would have to prove that 2013 was not a fluke, and that's something I'm having a tough time believing right now. First, his 18 home runs were easily a career high at any level in professional baseball, with his second place total being 9 between High-A and Double-A in 2011. He also has yet to show that he can hit righthanded pitchers in the majors, which will be problematic as he'll be facing them three-quarters of the time. Sure, he nearly doubled his walk rate from his rookie season, but these other two factors look to be significant red flags for me right now.
I do not wish a drug suspension on anyone, but in some sick, twisted manner, I think Rosario's suspension may actually help the Twins organization. It may force them to hold on to both Rosario and Dozier for 2014, and each one becomes the other's insurance plan for the Twins whether injury or ineffectiveness strikes.
While capitalizing on Dozier's peak value would certainly be beneficial, I'd only be comfortable with making that trade if it were a guarantee that Rosario would be a significant contributor to the 2014 team. Unfortunately, his eventual suspension suggests to me that the wiser decision may be to play it safe on the hot stove front for right now.