Though the Dodgers seemed to press every correct button in sequence earlier in the spring when they carried both James Outman and Miguel Vargas north for Opening Day, it may again be time to look to the minors and make an adjustment.
Vargas has hit steadily in the low .200s with a mid-.700s OPS this season, producing what any objective observer would call a "fine, not great" rookie season. Outman sprinted out to the top of the leaderboard, but has significantly cooled of late; the 26-year-old is hitting .174 and slugging .302 in his past 30 games.
The two rookies' growing pains have been tolerable for the Dodgers as they've pursued a somewhat unorthodox NL West title, but in recent weeks, the Diamondbacks have emerged as favorites in a topsy-turvy division. In order to make up the widening gap, it might be time for LA to turn to the other big-league ready 25-year-old currently raking at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
While Vargas and Outman made the leap by April 1, Michael Busch has received only occasional looks this year, and remains a top option to eventually be shipped out atop a trade package. He's still here for now, though, and he's hitting .310 with a .945 OPS at OKC.
Most importantly, he's on an absolute heater that earned him notice on Baseball America's prospect-chronicling Hot Sheet this week. In the month of June, Busch is batting .500 with three homers and ... well ... it wouldn't be the first time someone suggested swapping him for Vargas for a bit.
Should Dodgers promote Michael Busch (and demote Miguel Vargas)?
Pre-2023, it was exceptionally difficult to break into the star-studded Dodgers' lineup, as Gavin Lux learned repeatedly before finally earning an ill-fated chance this spring. Busch, an advanced college bat who would've likely been rushed through any other system, learned this the hard way following his first-round selection in 2019, and missed out on 2023's youth wave (though he did make a brief MLB debut this spring).
Demoting Vargas wouldn't be curtains on his Dodgers career; Andrew Friedman had high enough expectations to maneuver the team's infield picture around him this offseason. It would just be a reset for the talented bat, as well as one final pre-deadline opportunity to either rule out or embrace Busch once and for all.
Vargas has been solid, but the standard is higher here. If Outman's not going to carry the rookies, then perhaps it's time to find a new face to do so. Luckily, there's one waiting on the Hot Sheet.