The Dodgers continue their off-season moves on the sidelines with trade Miguel Rojas

The Dodgers continue their off-season moves on the sidelines with trade Miguel Rojas

The Dodgers continue their off-season moves on the sidelines with trade Miguel Rojas

Nine years after helping save Clayton Kershaw’s goalless defense, defenseman Miguel Rojas is a Dodger again.

After Trea Turner lost to the Phillies last month and was eliminated from the free-agent shortstop lottery, the Dodgers strengthened their hold on that position by acquiring Rojas from the Marlins on Wednesday in exchange for midfield prospect Jacob Amaya.

Rojas gives the Dodgers another shortstop option besides Gavin Lux, who seemed to be the most obvious candidate to replace Turner at that position, and Chris Taylor, who may now be spending more time on the field.

Lux emerged as a shortstop but spent his best season in the major league last year as the Dodgers’ second baseman. At the Winter Meetings, both the Dodgers president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman, and manager Dave Roberts expressed confidence in Lux at shortstop, but refrained from fully committing the 25-year-old as a starter in that position.

“I think just having options gives you the most flexibility and I think Gavin is a really talented player who will help us win a lot of games this year,” said Friedman. “Exactly where it is, we’re not sure yet.”

Now the Dodgers can either stop Lux at second base and start Rojas at shortstop, or move Lux back to shortstop and use Rojas as a utility player.

Rojas has served as the Marlins’ primary shortstop since 2017, but has played in all four infields during his nine-year career. He ends the season in which he achieved 0.236/0.283/0.323 with a score of 72 OPS+, which was his lowest rating since 2016. He was hampered by a wrist problem that required surgery in the off-season, although he has been a below-average striker in four of the last five seasons. The exception was the shortened 2020 season, where he recorded a career-best .888 OPS over 40 games.

Despite this, he has managed to amass 10.9 over-trade wins over the past six seasons thanks to his defense. His last season at 33 was one of his best. Rojas’ 15 defensive runs saved shortstop ranked second among all qualifying players in that position, while his 10 above-average outs tied for sixth.

The Dodgers know the defense Rojas can provide.

Rojas made his major-league debut for the Dodgers in 2014 and helped Kershaw keep the no-hitter untouched with a prodigious third-baseline play. But after hitting .181 in 85 games, he was traded in December in a deal that brought Kiké Hernández and Austin Barnes to Los Angeles.

Amaya, who had an OPS .795 with 17 home runs and six stolen bases last year between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, profiles similar to Rojas, known more for his glove than his stick. ZiPS predicts Amaya to be a 1.2 WAR player next year with 77 OPS+, while Steamer predicts Rojas to be a 1.8 WAR player with 93 wRC+.

The Dodgers opted for a more proven option in the Rojas, continuing the trend of sideline moves in the offseason.

While the Padres were charging up by adding Xander Bogaerts—and while many contenders either kept their best free agents, traded in new ones, or did both (see: Mets, Yankees)—the Dodgers largely stayed away from high-level end free- agent market in addition to re-signing with Kershaw.

They watched Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney, Cody Bellinger, Chris Martin, Tommy Kahnle, Joey Gallo and Hanser Alberto find new teams while adding Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard, JD Martinez, Shelby Miller, JP Feyereisen, Yonny Hernandez and now Rojas. How Ben Clemens of FanGraphs wrote last weekthis is the largest net loss in value (based on 2022 wins above trade) in the sport.

This inaction seemed to be designed to give their budding prospects a chance to play and reset luxury tax penalties – only Rojas is owed $5 million in 2023 and the Dodgers are on the hook to pay Trevor Bauer $22.5 million dollars, even after being assigned for assignment, now increased slightly above the first tax bracket by about $4 million.

That’s still well below what the Dodgers have put out in recent years and ranks fifth in baseball behind the Mets, Yankees, Padres and Phillies. For now, their attempt to rebound from a dizzying division series run will start with a smaller payroll than the divisional rivals who made it happen.

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. Previously, he was the editor of the Dodgers’ digital and print publications. Follow him on Twitter at @Rowan Kavner.

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