Los Angeles Dodgers FanFest provided some more clarity on the team's plan for the 2023 season and perhaps beyond. Miguel Vargas is apparently LA's starting second baseman, despite only logging 28 games there in his professional career, and Miguel Rojas now might be a Dodger through 2025.
During FanFest on Saturday, the Dodgers announced a one-year contract extension for Rojas that contains a club option for the 2025 season. The deal could max out at $15 million from 2023-2025 or come in at $11 million total for 2023-2024.
On the surface, it's not as bad of an idea as many might think. Look ahead to next year's class of free agents. There are no desirable middle infielders, veterans or utility players, unless you're into Brandon Crawford, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Adalberto Mondesi, Gio Urshela, Kolten Wong or Joey Wendle. And some of those guys will undoubtedly be more expensive than what Rojas just signed for and wouldn't be as valuable (Rojas brings a veteran presence/mentor influence unlike most).
Secondly, Rojas' wrist issue heading into 2023 may have left the Dodgers feeling like they needed to ensure a worthwhile return in this trade after shipping out No. 15 prospect (and shortstop!) Jacob Amaya.
Why did the Dodgers sign Miguel Rojas to a contract extension?
Additionally, after trading Amaya, the Dodgers have no shortstop prospects close to making their MLB debuts, with Eddys Leonard, Wilman Diaz and Rayne Doncon (Nos. 10, 25 and 26) ways off. The importance of a capable backup shortstop is paramount, especially with Gavin Lux struggling with injuries the last few seasons.
Whether you liked Amaya or not, it would've been a gamble to keep him and maintain high expectations, especially with Lux and Vargas still having a lot to prove in 2023.
Looking ahead to LA's payroll situation, Max Muncy could be gone after 2023 if his team option is declined. That could shift the infield around a bit, depending upon if they address third base (Urshela, Matt Chapman and Evan Longoria will be unrestricted free agents). If the Dodgers keep things in-house on that front, Rojas can play third and Vargas can remain at second, or vice versa. Maybe Taylor gets re-integrated into the infield situation. Either way, you can see how Rojas' presence helps, regardless of his offensive impact.
The truth of the matter is that next year's free agency class will be packed with outfielders and starting pitchers, which is where the Dodgers would probably look to make the biggest impact (Shohei Ohtani, Ian Happ, Teoscar Hernandez, Lucas Giolito, Aaron Nola and more).
A little bit of insurance on Rojas could go a long way if guys like Vargas, Lux and even James Outman can take the "next step" this season.