With Rojas on board, how does the infield shake out?

January 26th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Juan Toribio’s Dodgers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

LOS ANGELES -- At the start of the offseason, the likelihood of the Dodgers retaining Trea Turner were slim to none. Turner had made it clear he wanted to return East, a fact that became even more clear once he took less money to sign with the Phillies instead of joining the Padres on a lucrative deal.

Once the reality set in that Turner wasn’t coming back, it was almost certain that the Dodgers would explore the trade market for a shortstop. Willy Adames was the most obvious pick, but the Brewers aren’t looking to trade their star shortstop just yet. Nor are the White Sox looking to part ways with Tim Anderson, who also would be a good fit.

As the top options kept coming off the board, Gavin Lux taking over as the primary shortstop became more and more realistic. That, however, didn’t stop the Dodgers from adding infield depth in a trade with the Marlins that brought in Miguel Rojas in exchange for prospect Jacob Amaya.

Amaya wasn’t a part of the club's future given his struggles at the plate. That made it easy for the Dodgers to swing the trade. Now, where exactly does Rojas fit into Los Angeles' fold?

Lux is still expected to be the team’s primary shortstop this season. The 25-year-old has been working out at Dodger Stadium for the majority of the offseason and has put on nearly 15 pounds of muscle, which should help his arm strength and power numbers at the plate.

Rojas is considered the better fielder, which could result in him getting into games as a defensive replacement, when needed. He had a nightmare season at the plate in 2022, but the Dodgers are betting Rojas hits closer to his .719 career OPS against southpaws.

Keeping Lux at shortstop, especially against right-handed pitching, and adding Rojas to handle lefties gives the Dodgers their desired positional flexibility in order to maximize matchups. It allows Chris Taylor to stay in the outfield, a position of need for the club, and it keeps Miguel Vargas and Max Muncy relevant at second and third base, respectively.

Acquiring Rojas isn’t a move that will swing the landscape in the NL West. The Dodgers have a lot more competition this season, with the Padres being the most likely threat. But adding another proven defender gives the team some insurance if Lux or Vargas struggles -- either at the plate or defensively.