The Dodgers lost their starting shortstop for the entirety of the 2023 season in the third game of spring training. Gavin Lux is likely out for the entire 2023 season with a torn ACL and sprained LCL.
With less than a month to go until opening day on March 30, Lux’s injury has forced the Dodgers to figure out how to fill the gaping hole in their middle infield.
This dire situation reminds me of when Justin Sellers became the Dodgers’ opening day shortstop in 2013 after Hanley Ramírez tore a thumb ligament during the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Lux’s shocking injury is a devastating blow to their infield plans going into the season. The Dodgers had Lux, formerly their minor league player of the year in 2019, slated in the starting shortstop role after Trea Turner moved on to Philadelphia and Justin Turner signed with Boston this offseason. Lux’s development looked particularly optimistic after he spent time with Driveline working on increasing his bat speed and gained weight to increase his power at the plate.
Now the Dodgers look to veteran and returning old friend Miguel Rojas to play shortstop. Although Rojas is an excellent defender, Lux’s bat will sorely be missed in the Dodgers’ lineup. Rojas has a career OPS of .672 in his nine-year MLB career which includes his debut season with the Dodgers in 2014.
It’s pretty far into the offseason. For now, the Dodgers will go with their internal options, which are slim pickings. The organizational depth at shortstop is thin after they traded No. 15 prospect Jacob Amaya for Rojas this winter. The next shortstop on the depth chart is Eddys Leonard who has only played at the High-A level with the Great Lakes Loons. There’s also Yonny Hernández on the 40-man roster, but he has only collected 167 at-bats at the big league level.
The Dodgers will certainly look at all their options including looking outside the organization for infield reinforcements. The silver lining to such a big blow at such an early point in spring training, is that the Dodgers have the opportunity to work Chris Taylor and Miguel Rojas at shortstop and experiment with different options.
While both Rojas and Taylor can play a solid shortstop, both players have battled recent injuries. The Dodgers are really going to need Taylor to have a comeback year. The versatile utility player signed a four-year, $60 million deal after 2021 with Los Angeles, but 2022 turned out to be a throw away season for CT3, who dealt with injuries throughout the year including a fractured left foot that cost him several weeks.
Taylor’s offense suffered as a result. He hit only 10 homers, and his .677 OPS was the lowest of his career since becoming a full-time player with the Dodgers in 2017. His strikeout rate was 35.2 percent, and he led the team with 160 strikeouts in only 454 plate appearances. Taylor only played 26 games in the infield for the Dodgers in ‘22, and only one of those appearances was at shortstop, for one inning.
The Dodgers may decide to acquire a shortstop from outside the organization from among the remaining free agents or via a trade. Let’s take a look at some of the options remaining free agents and potential trade deadline options.
The group of remaining free agents isn’t an inspiring list:
José Iglesias (age 32) : Iglesias hit .292/.328/.380 (85 wRC+) in 439 at-bats for the Rockies last year, but his defense isn’t an upgrade over Rojas.
Andrelton Simmons (age 33): Simmons has four Gold Gloves, but he hasn’t hit well in the last two seasons. Last year he batted a paltry .173 in 75 at-bats.
Didi Gregorius (age 33): Gregorius has also had two rough years with the Phillies and OPS’d .567 in 2022.
Alcides Escobar (age 36): He’s still playing?
Andrew Friedman may look to rekindle trade talks for Willy Adames of the Brewers or Tim Anderson of the White Sox, but that’s if said players are even available. There’s also other possible trade targets, although these look even less likely.
- Amed Rosario (27), Cleveland Guardians
- Santiago Espinal (28), Toronto Blue Jays
- Gleyber Torres (26), New York Yankees
- Paul DeJong (29), St. Louis Cardinals
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa (27), New York Yankees
- Nicky Lopez (27), Kansas City Royals
- Taylor Walls (26), Tampa Bay Rays
- Jorge Mateo (27), Baltimore Orioles
The Dodgers and Yankees already worked together last year in the Joey Gallo trade last summer that netted them Clayton Better. The Yankees kept Isiah Kiner-Falefa and tendered him a contract this offseason perhaps in hopes of trading him to a desperate team. Kiner-Falefa has the versatility the Dodgers usually appreciate. He can play second base, shortstop and third which would free up Taylor to play more outfield.
Rojas will be the primary shortstop with Taylor as backup for now, but the shortstop depth is a concerning hole that the Dodgers will need to fix sooner rather than later.