MLB Network analysts explain how shift ban upends Dodgers infield situation

Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game One
Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game One / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

Last week, Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman popped onto MLB Network Radio and answered some questions about the roster heading into the 2023 season. The team made a lot of changes this offseason and there are still many questions to be answered.

Such as ... what will the infield alignment be? Freddie Freeman at first base, Will Smith at catcher, and everything else subject to change? It was fair to assume that following the acquisition (and extension) of Miguel Rojas, in addition to the buzz about Chris Taylor expecting to log most of his reps in the outfield.

But then Friedman dropped an unexpected bomb on Dodgers fans when he hinted Vargas could be the team's starting second baseman, which never crossed anybody's mind. In fact, it was believed left field would be his secondary position after third base.

Fast forward a few days later at Dodgers FanFest and manager Dave Roberts confirmed Vargas as the projected starter at second base and details about why that would be the case. But first, it was the folks on MLB Network giving us the lowdown the day prior.

"This is the Dodgers. They're ahead of everything. There's no defensive shifting anymore, so Max Muncy is going to go to third base ... are you surprised the Dodgers are rolling with a rookie at second base?" asked host Greg Amsinger.

To which Ron Darling responded: "It's because of the non shifting. Vargas is the second- or third-fastest in the Dodgers' system. He's an incredible athlete. You're going to have to cover more ground over there now because there's no shift. If there was a shift, you could kind of hide Muncy deep in that little platoon area, but you can't do that anymore."

Dodgers top prospect Miguel Vargas to start at second base in 2023

Dodgers insider Juan Toribio of mentioned that Vargas and Muncy "could alternate positions" from time to time, but this will more than likely be the everyday alignment barring injuries or detrimental play.

The only problem is Vargas has played just 28 games at second base in his professional career, seven of which came at Triple-A last year. Handling such a demanding defensive position with so little experience now that the shift has been banned will be a monumental challenge, but it appears as if the Dodgers feel comfortable with Vargas' athletic ability, speed and range.

The Dodgers will have options if this experiment fails, which is likely why they're comfortable throwing Vargas into the fire. Gavin Lux can shift over to second. Chris Taylor can play there. Miguel Rojas, though he only has 73 career games at the position, is a Gold Glove-caliber defender and should be able to handle it if he's being used as a utility player (which has been predicted). If Michael Busch forces the issue in spring training, he could be an option, too.

At the very least, after curbing sizable expenditures this offseason, the Dodgers are getting creative with the young/in-house talent right off the bat, which could help them get a better idea of the organization's future outlook.

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