The Los Angeles Dodgers made a trade that nobody saw coming on Wednesday, dealing infield prospect Jacob Amaya to the Miami Marlins for Miguel Rojas. Rojas previously spent time with the Dodgers in 2014 before being among the players headed to Miami in the Dee Gordon trade.
Los Angeles lost a shortstop in Trea Turner this offseason and it was widely accepted that Gavin Lux would slot in full-time at the position. Adding a defensive option like Rojas gives the team some flexibility in that regard while also adding a bat to a pretty depleted bench.
When you think of this trade as a Turner replacement, it doesn't seem so great. But when you think about it as a Hanser Alberto replacement, it becomes a much better move. Can Rojas pitch garbage time ninth innings, though?
This trade, however, does hurt the stock of one Dodger in particular, and it's someone who hasn't even played a big-league inning yet in his career. This prospect was expected to be one of several to have prominent roles on the team in 2023. Now, that path is a bit murkier.
The Miguel Rojas trade may hurt Michael Busch's stock with the Dodgers in 2023
With Turner and Alberto leaving (and J.D. Martinez replacing Justin Turner), it seemed likely that Michael Busch would not only make the Opening Day roster but play a prominent role. He may not have started right away, but there was depth needed in the middle infield for Busch to get some reps at second base.
Now it seems a bit harder for Busch to carve out a role in the infield. Miguel Vargas will be the team's starting third baseman with Max Muncy being the alternative. Lux will start at short with Rojas behind him while Muncy will start at second. Lux provides another second base option for LA along with Chris Taylor.
This gives the Dodgers five infielders without counting Taylor. With Martinez occupying the DH spot, the Dodgers seemingly have plenty of depth for the infield and may instead look to target outfield depth. This could give someone like Andy Pages a chance at the active roster over Busch.
Busch has certainly earned a role with the big-league club. The 25-year-old slashed .274/.365/.516 in the minors last season with most of his appearances in AAA. Busch's power exploded in 2022 as he slugged 32 home runs with 108 RBI in 142 games played.
There still could be a situation in which Busch gets playing time. If the Dodgers want to go left-handed heavy against a right-handed starter they could theoretically start Busch at second, Lux at short and Muncy at third. However, with Freddie Freeman and James Outman being left-handed, and Mookie Betts and Will Smith having reverse splits, they may not want to commit that heavily into left-handed bats.
Even if Busch makes the active roster (which still should happen) he may not get the reps he otherwise deserves in 2023. If that ends up being the case because of Rojas, it will be a hard move to defend. Let the kids play.