LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers have said they believe Gavin Lux can move back to his natural position and replace All-Star Trea Turner at shortstop. They are also counting on Miguel Vargas to handle third base well enough defensively to keep his bat in the lineup.
But they are hedging those bets.
The Dodgers acquired veteran infielder Miguel Rojas from the Miami Marlins in exchange for infield prospect Jacob Amaya on Wednesday.
Rojas, 34, will make $5 million in 2023, the second season of a two-year, $10 million contract he signed with the Marlins. That would push the Dodgers’ payroll over the Competitive Balance Tax threshold (approximately $233 million) for the 2023 season.
Rojas returns to the team for which he made his big-league debut in 2014. The Venezuela native played 85 games for the Dodgers that season and is best remembered for making a play down the third base line on a ground ball by Troy Tulowitzki to preserve Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter.
Rojas was part of a multi-player deal that December (one of Andrew Friedman’s first moves with the Dodgers), going to Miami along with Dee Strange-Gordon and Dan Haren in exchange for Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, Andrew Heaney and Kiké Hernandez.
An exceptional defender at shortstop and third base, Rojas became the everyday shortstop in Miami despite his limited offensive ability. The right-handed hitter batted just .181 in his first season with the Dodgers but improved with increased playing time in Miami, batting .265 with a low strikeout rate but very little power (39 home runs in nine big-league seasons).
A wrist issue was a factor in Rojas’ .236 average in 2022, his lowest with the Marlins. He underwent surgery in October and reportedly will undergo another procedure on his wrist but is expected to be ready for spring training.
Rojas’ defense, however, makes him a viable option if either Lux (a left-handed hitter) or Vargas stumble defensively.
In Amaya, the Dodgers send the Marlins a 24-year-old prospect with a similar profile – Amaya’s defense is highly rated but there are questions about his ability to hit major-league pitching.
An 11th-round draft pick out of South Hills High School in West Covina in 2017, Amaya reached Triple-A last season and had his best offensive season, hitting 17 home runs combined between Double-A Tulsa and Oklahoma City with a .261 average and .795 OPS.
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