Miguel Vargas position change feels like his last chance with Dodgers

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

Mookie Betts moving to second base permanently for the Dodgers clarified a lot of things for the team. As great as he is at the plate, Betts has struggled in the outfield over the past few years, compared to his heyday. It feels difficult to admit, but the formerly sterling fielder was worth -3 run value on defense last year, per Baseball Savant. Moving him to second allowed the Dodgers to re-sign Jason Heyward to play in right, add Teoscar Hernández to left, and keep James Outman in center. All three are acceptable-to-elite defensive players who will be able to keep the outfield locked down well.

With Gavin Lux coming back to play shortstop, the Dodgers' infield from first to third will feature Freddie Freeman, Betts, Lux, and Max Muncy everyday. But where does that leave Miguel Vargas?

Vargas made the Opening Day roster in 2023 as the Dodgers' second baseman, as Lux went out with an ACL tear and Miguel Rojas came in to play shortstop. He batted .195/.305/.367 over 81 games and was sent back to Triple-A in July, where he ended his season. It was a disappointing showing for the Dodgers' No. 5 prospect in 2022, and the bloom seemed to come off the rose in the eyes of Dodgers management.

This year, Vargas has reported to spring training as a left fielder in what seems like a last-ditch effort to earn a spot on the 26-man and avoid being sent back down to start the season (or traded away outright).

Miguel Vargas reported to Dodgers spring training as a left fielder

Left field is a bit of a curious place to put Vargas; Hernández is expected to get most of the starts there, with Chris Taylor and maybe even Manuel Margot filling in when necessary. Taylor is a super utility player who could also move down to the shortstop if the Dodgers want to ease Lux back into the season by sitting him more often, which could potentially leave a need for another backup outfielder. However, it feels unlikely that the Dodgers would go to Vargas for that, as he's only made seven starts in the outfield at the big league level, and they came back in 2022.

The Dodgers seem to be giving Vargas one last shot to prove himself and avoid a trip back to Oklahoma City. He still has one minor-league option left, so his time within the organization might not be over just yet, but it does feel like he's nearing the end if he can't give the Dodgers a reason to keep him on the bench come Opening Day.