When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Miguel Rojas, many questioned the move, and rightfully so. They surrendered a top-15 prospect in Jacob Amaya for a 34-year-old coming off his worst career campaign from an offensive standpoint. Rojas is also only under contract through 2023.
Secondly, what did this mean for Gavin Lux, who seemed to be in line to take over as the starting shortstop and finally prove his pedigree as the former top prospect in all of baseball?
And lastly, what really was the point of the trade, since the Dodgers knew of Rojas' troubling wrist issue? The former Miami Marlin underwent surgery in October after playing most of 2022 in pain, and there's belief he'll need another procedure before spring training.
He claims he'll be ready for spring training, but how can the Dodgers be sure his performance in 2023 won't be impacted, as the issues seemingly compound? Maybe they aren't?
Maybe they acquired Rojas to put a bit of pressure on Lux so there's a fire under him rather than a free pass to the starting shortstop job? When you look at all the factors in play here, it starts to make a bit more sense.
Did the Miguel Rojas trade serve as a Dodgers tactic to put pressure on Gavin Lux?
Hey, it's not the bad kind of pressure, it's the good kind! The kind that spurs competition. The kind that dispels complacency. And since Lux has yet to be truly challenged in his Dodgers career because he was blocked by superior, All-Star talents in Corey Seager and Trea Turner, perhaps some veteran flair that doesn't totally threaten Lux's standing could bring it home for the 25-year-old.
Rojas had his best defensive season by FAR at shortstop in 2022. He logged 15 Defensive Runs Saved and 10 Outs Above Average across 1,113.2 innings. That was good for a 2.6 dWAR. All of those were career-bests.
But two wrist surgeries could affect that. And for as good as his defense is, for all of the offense the Dodgers lost this offseason, it's probable they value Lux's potential from the left side of the plate over Rojas' career-worst .605 OPS and 72 OPS+.
And with these new and improved guns? Bring us that power, baby! Lux has been getting to work this offseason as he prepares for a potential breakout 2023.
Another possible sign here is the departure of Amaya, who was next in line to threaten the shortstop hierarchy had he gotten off to a fast start next year. Perhaps the Dodgers felt any sort of head-to-head race on the big-league roster made more sense for Lux's development while also eliminating any future questions about the status of the position, since the next-closest prospect is now Eddys Leonard, who just completed a full season at High-A.
It's unclear how this will all play out, but this is at least something to think about as we gear up for a pivotal season from Lux.