After finalizing the contracts of Joe Kelly and Shohei Ohtani on Monday, the Los Angeles Dodgers traded reliever Victor Gonzalez and prospect Jorbit Vivas to the Yankees for prospect Trey Sweeney, who they then sent to Double-A in order to clear room on the 40-man. When all was said and done, the Dodgers added Ohtani and Kelly to once again fill the roster.
This was not surprising when you consider the players who had to go in order to accommodate the likes of Ohtani. The Dodgers don't look like they're finished, either. A meeting between the team and Yoshinobu Yamamoto took place on Wednesday, there's a rumored Tyler Glasnow trade in the works, and Corbin Burnes/Willy Adames apparently aren't off the table just yet. Even if any or all of those transactions fall through, the fact is that the Dodgers still need pitching, so they're going to need to clear a few more players from their 40-man roster.
Now that things are rolling a little this offseason, perhaps a direct result of the Dodgers finally locking up Ohtani, we can expect a cascade of moves within the coming weeks, which will force some players out of the Dodgers organization.
Here are the Dodgers players whose roster spots are in jeopardy going into 2024
Reliever Caleb Ferguson's name was in the trade mix before Victor Gonzalez was dealt to the Yankees, so he might not be long for the Dodgers organization when they start looking for spots to open up again. Ferguson is a lifelong Dodger, having been selected by them in the 38th round of the 2014 draft, and he's managed to do solid work for them in his five years in the major leagues. In 2023, he pitched 60 innings in a season for the first time in his career and finished with a 3.43 ERA. This is objectively fine, but the team probably expected more from him coming off of a 34-inning, 1.82 ERA showing in 2022 after Tommy John.
It seems unlikely the team would release him outright when he's doing serviceable work in the major leagues. Instead, it's more realistic they trade him away and get something in return. They can clear a roster spot, upgrade the bullpen or rotation, and be on their way.
Given Gavin Lux's recovery, not to mention looming threats of an Adames arrival from the Brewers, Miguel Rojas' name is undoubtedly on the chopping block this offseason. He took over at shortstop this year after Lux went down with an ACL tear and played in 124 games. He was a fine defensive shortstop, but he only batted .236/.290/.322 with 31 RBI, and he'll be 35 years old by the time the 2024 season kicks off.
The Dodgers have already guaranteed him $5 million in 2024 and they have a $5 million club option for 2025, but it's unlikely that they'll keep Rojas long enough to make a decision on that option. Instead, he could be a DFA candidate (we're not sure who would trade for that contract), which would be the easiest way to clear him off the roster given his age and his declining performance. Besides, $5 million is a drop in the bucket to the Dodgers. They can hope somebody claims him and picks up the rest of his money, but we wouldn't bet on it.