Lux finally gets his chance at shortstop

February 19th, 2023

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Four years ago, was the talk of the prospects world. After tearing through Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, Lux established himself as one of the best shortstop prospects in the Minors.

As Lux’s name frequently came up in trade talks, he was nearly untouchable, even in exchange for established Major League players who would’ve helped the Dodgers in the short term. With Corey Seager handling shortstop through the 2021 season and Trea Turner taking the reins in '22, Lux, who is still only 25 years old, almost became a forgotten commodity.

This offseason, however, once it was obvious Turner preferred the East Coast and wasn’t re-signing with the Dodgers, the organization made it clear to Lux that he was going to be the starting shortstop for Los Angeles, something Lux had waited a few years to hear.

“Both those guys are two of the best shortstops in baseball. Arguably the two best, so I got to learn under them and saw how they went about their business,” Lux said. “I loved playing with both of them, but I think it’s cool that I get to slide back to where I grew up playing, so I’m excited.”

Throughout the offseason, Lux said he noticed people talking -- and even questioning -- his ability to move from second base to shortstop. But for Lux, he said the bigger adjustment was moving from shortstop, the position he played his entire Minor League career, to second base.

Even while playing second base the last two seasons, Lux routinely took ground balls at shortstop before each game. While not officially the team’s shortstop until now, Lux continued to prepare himself, knowing this opportunity would eventually come to fruition.

“I feel comfortable on the left side when it comes to reading balls and reading it off the bat,” Lux said. “That’s what I did growing up, and I feel really comfortable going back over there.”

Lux’s development hasn’t exactly been a linear process. In 2021, Lux battled injuries and got off to a slow start at the plate. Then, with Seager set to taste the free-agent market in the offseason, the Dodgers traded for Turner from the Nationals, blocking Lux’s path at becoming the shortstop for at least one more season.

With Seager and Turner both on the team, Lux was the odd man out. He was sent back to the Minors, a move he struggled with at first. The move was even more difficult for Lux because the Dodgers were asking him to get reps in the outfield for the first time in his life.

Last season, Lux finally showed signs of being the player the Dodgers fell in love with just a few years prior. He found a home at second base, playing 129 games and posting a .745 OPS, both career highs. All those ups and downs might’ve prepared Lux for the opportunity, and pressure, that comes with being the Dodgers’ shortstop.

“I think I would’ve been ready [to play shortstop three years] ago and I would’ve taken my bumps and bruises, but I’m not sure how I would’ve handled it,” Lux said. “But I think now, mentally and physically, I’m way more prepared to handle it than I would’ve been three years ago. It’s night and day, for sure.”

Lux’s first move this offseason was to visit Driveline in Seattle, something the Dodgers encouraged nearly every position player to do this offseason. After going through tests at the facility, the message to Lux was to add more strength.

Lux spent the offseason eating close to 4,500 calories a day and working with the training staff. He came into camp about 15 pounds heavier than where he was last season, a change that could lead to more power and more arm strength.

“I’m really high on Gavin Lux,” said Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman. “What he did last year before he got hurt at the end of the year -- hitting .300, playing every day -- that was a huge step for him, and I think he’s going to take an even better jump this year.”

It’s a step that will directly affect how high the Dodgers’ ceiling is this season. And they believe the time is now for Lux.

“I kind of have a bad taste in my mouth after [losing to the Padres in the NLDS],” Lux said. “So I’m excited.”