The Dodgers on Tuesday optioned infielder Gavin Lux, though with no actual minor league season it feels weird to say he was sent to the minors. Normally, players are optioned to an affiliate, like Triple-A Oklahoma City, or Double-A Tulsa, for instance. But now if a player is optioned, he just disappears into the ether.
On a technical level, this means Lux will for the foreseeable future work out of the Dodgers’ alternate training site at USC rather than Dodger Stadium. And it also means Lux will not be on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster.
Lux reported to camp on July 10, missing the first week of workouts at Dodger Stadium, putting him behind, especially in the competition for playing time at second base.
Lux did not start in either of the Dodgers’ two exhibition games against the Diamondbacks. a Kiké Hernandez started at second base on Sunday, and Chris Taylor started on Monday. Lux appeared in both games as a reserve, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
Manager Dave Roberts said he told Lux of the move before Monday night’s game.
“There’s a lot that goes with his swing. At this point in time he just wasn’t synced up,” Roberts said Tuesday. “Nothing against him. It’s just, right now, where we’re at, we look for Gavin to get lots of at-bats offsite at USC, and be ready to be called upon. He started playoff games for us last year. That just shows the confidence we have in him as a ballplayer, and as a young man. I just want him to get right, and I expect him to be with us.”
Roberts said Hernandez and Taylor will get the bulk of the at-bats at second base, with some Max Muncy sprinkled in.
Elephant in the room
How long Lux stays at the alternate training site remains to be seen. He has 29 days of major league service time to date, and would need 143 more days to accrue a full season. In a shortened season, service time is pro-rated this year, though I’m not sure if it’s based on the 60-game schedule or the 67-day season. On a pro-rated basis, Lux would need either 51 or 53 days of service time this year to earn the equivalent of those 143 days over a full year, to accrue a full year of service time. So he’d have to remain optioned for 15 to 17 days to prevent that from happening, which could potentially delay his free agency by a year.
I say potentially because the collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2021 season, and rules could change before free agency, or even salary arbitration, is on Lux’s radar. But that’s where we stand now.