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Miguel Rojas – Back With The Dodgers

The Dodgers have a new shortstop.  Or do they?  Miguel Rojas is a proven MLB defensive SS with a career slash line of .260/.314/.358/.672, and a career OPS+ of 85.  His strikeout percentage was 12% last year, with a 12.6% career strikeout percentage.  There is no denying that Rojas is not a major offensive threat, but he will put the ball in play, and he will save runs.

Rojas is back with LAD for his second stint.  He was signed by the Dodgers to a MiLB contract in November 2012.  He joined the LAD roster in 2014, but did not show at that time that he would be anything more than a AAAA player than have a 9 year career.  In one of AF’s first transactions (December 2014), Rojas was traded with 2B Dee Gordon, RHP Dan Haren, and cash to Miami Marlins, for LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Chris Hatcher, 2B Kiké Hernandez and C Austin Barnes.  Heaney was then traded to LAA for Howie Kendrick.

Is the plan to put Rojas at SS and leave Gavin Lux at 2B?  Or do the Dodgers really need yet another utility player?  Could this be a pre-cursor to a CT3 trade?  Speculation will be rampant, as there are those who are pooh-poohing this trade.  I am an avid Jake Amaya fan, but I have no issues with this trade.

Rojas has been a defensive whiz since he first played at the ML level with the Dodgers in 2014.  So much so that I can still remember his back hand stab and throw from behind third base on June 18, 2014, to keep Clayton Kershaw’s no hitter intact.  I did not see it with my eyes, but I sure saw it from my mind’s eyes from the voice of Vin Scully.

 

I published a post several days ago about how important run prevention was to me.  The Dodgers could not possibly go into the season with Muncy, Lux, Vargas (2nd /SS/3B) as the primary infield, could they?.  With Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, JDM, Max Muncy, Gavin Lux, and potentially Miguel Vargas, can they make up for the weak bat of Rojas, as long as he puts up GG level defense?

Many were looking for the Dodgers to sign José Iglesias, and admittedly I was in favor early on in the off season.  His career slash line is .279/.319/.382/.701.  Not a great difference than the career stats of Rojas.  But there was no way that Iglesias was the equal to Rojas defensively.  While Iglesias is a better offensive threat,  would Iglesias’ bat be that much of a difference?  The team needs defense more than offense.  They should have the offense to score a lot of runs this year.  I guarantee you that with the restructured infield, the pitchers are happier today than they were yesterday.

Okay, that is only part of the picture.  The Dodgers needed to trade Jake Amaya to get Rojas.  While there are those who believe that Amaya can do anything that Rojas can do, I am not in that camp.  Amaya has never done it at the ML level what  Rojas has done for 9 years.  If players can duplicate what they do at AAA at the MLB level, then why have a AAA.  Why are so many convinced that Amaya will put up Rojas numbers?  Maybe he will.  Probably not.  The Dodgers might as well just call up last year’s AAA team.  Jake Lamb, Kevin Pillar, and Eddy Alvarez all put up much better numbers in OKC, but could not do so with the ML club, and Lamb and Pillar were proven ML players.  Jake Lamb was even less productive in Seattle than he was with LAD.

Dodger player personnel execs are obviously not convinced that Amaya can be a ML regular, or at least not at the level of Rojas.  If they did believe that, they would never have made the trade.  Chances are the Dodgers would have been more comfortable with Michael Busch in the lineup than Amaya.  Busch is a much better offensive threat, but he will undoubtedly start the season at OKC.  The Dodgers are planning on at least two rookies as position players on the roster, and at least one rookie pitcher.  They did not have a single rookie exceed rookie status in 2022.  Three rookies planning on being significant players at the ML level, is not something the Dodgers have been comfortable with.  They were never going to rely on Amaya to be that ML SS.

There is not a single publication that believes that Amaya is anything more than a utility infielder, and only as a defensive replacement.  Are they always correct?  No, but they generally have a better understanding of what makes for a ML regular than the average fan.

IMO, Amaya will be a good utility infielder at the ML level, and should have a productive ML career. But not in 2023.  Rojas’ ML experience and GG level glove, gives the Dodgers a better team in 2023 than Amaya’s promise.

Amaya is not even projected to be the regular SS for Miami.  Right now, Joey Wendle is the first SS on the Marlins depth chart.  Amaya is probably ticketed to Jacksonville, the International League AAA affiliate of Miami.

I will follow Amaya’s career, and hope he will become a productive ML player.  But for 2023, I will be more comfortable with Miguel Rojas.

 

 

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OhioDodger

Well, we are over the CBT for now. Gotta figure there are moves coming one way or another.

OhioDodger

More moves. One or both of Taylor and Muncy will have to go to stay under the CBT.

Oldbear48

They were going over the CBT anyway as soon as all of their arbitration eligible players sign.

Dave

Yes. Lux, Rojas, Muncy, Yonny and Taylor seems like more infield flexibility than is needed. Rojas puts them @ 5 mill over the threshold.

Last edited 19 days ago by Dave
Bluto

The team would be over the threshold without this trade via the arbitration cases.

I read yesterday, but haven’t confirmed, that the date when teams are deemed “under” or “over” the threshold is at the END of the MLB season.

If this is true, it changes the dynamic entirely for me, in that there’s a lot more time to move Treinen, CT3 or other high-salary to create space.

Badger

“the threshold is at the END of the MLB season.”

I read that too, mentioned it the other day. Deadline moves could decide where we are in relation to CBT threshold.

OhioDodger

Yes. But now, we are way over.

Oldbear48

Barely over. Rojas only makes 4.5 mil.

Badger

Here’s where we differ.

“He’s already done it at Major League level”

Done what? He has a career OPS+ of 85. That is below ML average. I think Amaya could do that. The only reason he hasn’t is because he has been blocked. And now it appears another move needs to be made to accommodate Rojas.

Could this be happening because the Dodgers don’t believe in Taylor anymore?

Its not that I don’t like Rojas. He is starter material on a non competitive team like Miami and would be a fine backup on the Dodgers. I guess I’m just surprised by this move.

Bumsrap

Shoes are dropping. We will soon know if Rojas is the Dodgers starting shortstop or is a precursor to trading Taylor.

If Rojas winds up being the shortstop then Lux will most likely be the second baseman. That moves Muncy to third and Vargas to left field, right? If so, what happens in 2024 when Rojas and Muncy could be gone? That leaves a hole at short and third again.

Shoes are dropping.

Badger

I wasn’t referring to the 40 man, I was referring to the CBT cap. I was under the impression the Dodgers were trying to reset. Maybe not.

You think I didn’t look at Amaya’s defensive capabilities? I’m surprised you would think that. I read the scouting report. Fielding was his highest grade. Those DRS numbers you refer to could possibly come from him. Miami seems to think so. Straight up for a 34 year old $5 million mostly bottom of the order hitter on a 69 win club.

Everyone said Vargas would hit .300? I didn’t.

I don’t just look at OPS+. Just thought I would mention it. Amaya has improved offensively OPSn .748 at OKC. Rojas projects an OPS of .669 next year. I’m merely suggesting maybe Amaya could do that hitting fastballs from the 9 hole.

I didn’t advise anyone that Muncy was going to OPS .800. I think he certainly can, but as I sarcastically mentioned yesterday he ONLY needs to add 50 points to both his average and OBP.

I’m not convinced the Dodgers are “a WS contender”. Not at this point. We lost 2 top of the order hitters and arguably our best pitcher. And that’s from a team that got blowed out in their first round last year.

Doesn’t sound to me like you love Jacob Amaya.

Bumsrap

Jeff, I agreed with Badger regarding your comment … ““He’s already done it at Major League level”

That’s not the best argument you could have made regarding how much better the Dodgers are with Rojas instead of Amaya. I do agree with you that Rojas is an upgrade over Amaya for 2023. If Rojas winds up as a utility player then a lot of his superiority over Amaya goes away.

dodgerpatch

In this back and forth, no one is really talking about the clubhouse presence and veteran leadership that Rojas brings. The Dodgers are already taking a chance by inserting rookies in the starting role in two positions. Are you going to suggest that Amaya, who has never even seen MLB pitching or stood on a major league infield, is now going to take over the most important infield position on a team with high playoff expectations like the Dodgers, a team already starting two rookies?

The who-is-better argument is kind of moot. Amaya and Rojas are essentially the same guy in terms of talent ceiling. Rojas has just proven it over many years and is a known quantity, and brings lots of MLB experience to a team that will need it. Amaya may turn into a Rojas at some point, but the Dodgers need that guy NOW, not three years from now.

Badger

Good point.

Sam Oyed

Evidently the Mets used the same doctor as the Giants to review Correa’s medicals. You would have thought they’d seek a second opinion.

Bobby

Likely Rojas is a 1 year stopgap to solidify the defense. If he’s pure crap, then may be we go find a shortstop at the all star break.

But more importantly, now that Amaya is gone, who’s next in line to perhaps be our future SS? Who gets the SS job in AA or AAA, with an eye towards LA?

Badger
Badger

Adames in ‘25!

Oldbear48

Rather have Rosario next year, Why wait until 25 to upgrade>>> >>>?????

Bumsrap

I hear Friedman is consulting with Rob Pelinka regarding building a team around Betts and Freeman.

Badger

Pelinka has certainly shown his skill level at such endeavors.

Singing the Blue

I agree that the Dodgers roster is not yet complete, but under what circumstances would they add Iglesias?

Even if they were to trade CT3 (and I think that would be difficult at this point, although maybe less so at the deadline in July), I would think they would replace him with someone who could play both infield and outfield.

I think their main objective at this point is to see if they can come up with a better than average center fielder in a trade between now and the start of ST.

Scott Andes

I’ve been saying this too

“There is no SS or CF pipeline”

Best farm system in baseball with no SS or CF options! lolz

Fred Vogel

RIP Charles White. One of the great Trojans.

Oldbear48

RIP Lisa Marie Presley at age 54. Elvis’s only child.

Oldbear48

I read that the other day. We have lost some entertainment giants the last few years.

Badger

I made reference to Jeff Beck the other day. Nobody seemed to notice. His tour bus was between Portland and SF and made a stop in Redding where he played in the old downtown theater. I was hired with some other college football players as security and stood right in front of him as he played. Amazing experience.

Oldbear48

I would bet it was. Having met and played with some great players, I can imagine how cool something like that would be. When I met James Burton, Elvis’s lead player, I was in awe.

Bluto

Wait, does this mean if Bauer is let go at the beginning of the year, his salary is pro-rated? Even if it’s fully guaranteed? Aren’t all salaries fully guaranteed on Major League deals?

Following on this Alex Eisert @FanGraphs wonders about the Rojas deal and what it may portend.

Dodgers Seemingly Scrap Spending Plans, Acquire Miguel Rojas

The idea of moving Trienen rather than Taylor or Muncy seems to be gaining traction in the public space. Whatever that means or doesn’t mean.

Finally, Bauer officially released and DiGiovanna has this sourced quote:

“The only guy who I know for sure would sign him is Al Davis,” one high-ranking major league executive said, referring to the renegade Oakland Raiders owner who relished his organization’s bad-boy image right up until his death in 2011.

Emphasis and wiggle room created by “for sure”.

Last edited 18 days ago by Bluto
Bluto

Oh. It’s moving Treinen by attaching prospects.

Obviously Treinen himself has limited value, if that.

Badger

By the way, while I’m thinking about it, thanks for this article Bluto. I had missed it until I saw it here. It sums up quite succinctly what I was thinking about Amaya and this deal. And after thinking about it further, it feels to me like Taylor is outta here.

OhioDodger

Will be very interesting to see if any team signs him. I don’t think he will get any offers.

Bluto

In this MLB Survey of executives:
https://www.mlb.com/news/mlb-front-office-selections-best-farm-systems?t=mlb-pipeline-coverage

The Dodgers ranks:
Farm: 2nd
Draft: 1st
IFA: 1st (tied)
Pitcher Dev: 2nd
Hitter Dev: 1st
Sleeper Dev: 1st

Bluto

Can’t wait to read it!

it’s quite awesome to read how well regarded and run the team is in the eyes of its peers.

Last edited 18 days ago by Bluto
Bumsrap

Kelenic’s line while in the minors is awesome. His minor league career line that spans 4 years is:
.295.369.540.909
His career minor league K rate is 21%

His two year MLB career sucks. His line with 500 ABs is:
.168.251.338.589
His major league career K rate is 30%

Vargas career minor league line is:
.313.390.488.878 and spans 4 years
His career minor league K rate is 15.4%

Why will Verdugo hit better than Kelenic in the MLB?

If Muncy is going to play 3rd base, does that mean Vargas is destined for LF? If so, maybe a Vargas for Kelenic trade makes sense and with all trades, other players might be involved to get the trade done.

Oldbear48

I think the Dodgers would prefer to see what Vargas can do at the major league level before trading him for a bust like Kelenic. He has shown nada. I do not want him on my team.

Badger

They’re the same age. Kelenic has what amounts to a full season of at bats. Hit .168 with them. I have no clue of his potential but there certainly is plenty of time for him.

Dylan Hernandez sure raked Kasten and Friedman this morning. Yoiks. Can’t say I totally disagree with him.

Oldbear48

I missed that, what did he say>>>????

OhioDodger

Basically saying that Friedman and the Dodgers management has not come out and taken responsibility or admitted to screwing the pooch on Bauer. Friedman is overrated.

Bumsrap

Kenenic is certainly a mystery. Based on his tools and minor league success it would seem like he should do well in the majors. Even Trout was sent back down after a slow start to his major league debut.

The trade of Vargas for Kelenic if put in context of Muncy moving to third and Vargas moving to LF would give the Dodgers a good defensive center fielder with the same upside offensively as Vargas in place of a questionable defensive left fielder.

Vargas barely got a taste of the major leagues last year and didn’t take advantage of it although his cup of coffee was too brief to measure anything. Kellenic has already had two looks at the majors and is the same age as Vargas.

A Vargas for Kelenic trade would be a gamble for both teams. Vargas has better K rates where Kelenic has better power and is a better defensive player in the outfield. I think it is only a good trade if Vargas winds up in the outfield.

Oldbear48

A lot of fans are pooh poohing this trade. I believe it makes perfect sense. Amaya is an unknown, how he would have played into the Dodgers plans is unknown. Rojas is a veteran infielder with a great glove and a decent bat. The team knows what it is getting, plus the fact there are really no veteran infielders on the bench whatsoever, now there is. Anyone here truly expect Yonny Hernandez to be with the team after spring training??? Nope.

Badger

From the Athletic:

“Rojas provides insurance at three positions, which reinforces the Dodgers elsewhere. Some combination of Muncy and Vargas can help fill in the other games at second (where Vargas has done significant work this winter) and third base, with Rojas able to backfill starts. That helps Chris Taylor spend more time in the outfield rather than in the infield.”

This makes sense to me. Utility guy. The Dodgers loves them their utility guys. He and Lux will share time at short.

Maybe his wrist will be fine. Needs some “clean up” this winter.

Last edited 18 days ago by Badger
Dionysus

Well, we probably needed an OF, so Rojas allows Taylor to be that OF. Makes sense to me.

Oldbear48

Rojas has never played the outfield. He is not playing there. They have 8 outfielders on the roster. Not a position of need.

Badger

Ardaya’s article suggested Rojas would provide insurance at 3 infield positions. Lux will still play both up the middle spots. He also said Vargas has been working a lot at second this winter. Muncy is in the utility mix too, second, third and first. Taylor is in the outfield now.

I’ve stated often I don’t like moving young guys around like that, and I still don’t. Rojas sure, he’s 34 and been around a while. Same with Taylor, and to a degree Muncy. In my opinion young players need to focus on one position. Earn a spot there and maybe later you can move around.

Oldbear48

Rojas is a pro,

Oldbear48

I have to laugh at some of the idiotic trade ideas I have been seeing. One guy suggested we trade Taylor, Thompson and a minor league pitcher for Ian Happ. Now, Ian Happ is a good player no doubt. But he also is a strikeout machine with one less K last season than Bellinger. They are teammates now, and between them they struck out 299 times last season. His other idea was even dumber, trading those two guys and a minor league pitcher to the Guardians for Ramirez, Naylor, and Rosario. Never happen.

Badger

Happ works for me. 28, 4 WAR, .800 OPS, not that expensive and is a free agent in ‘24, which means, like Rojas, could be a rental. Not sure what he’s worth. Taylor, yes, after that some A talent. And unless things have changed, it’s not about strikeouts in Friedmanville, it’s about OPS. I’m used to that now so if it’s gone back to contact, I’m fine with it but someone needs to let me know.

oh, Hernandez said “Dodgers refuse to own their fiasco” then explained why. Dodgers aren’t as smart as they think they are, ignoring the mounting evidence that proves what they’re doing doesn’t work. Bauer leads the list of course, and he said something about playoff “chokes”. He also referenced the use of Roberts as a “meat shield”. Loved that one. He ends with something of a contradiction, depending on p.o.v. He said management isn’t holding itself accountable because it knows the public won’t, and though the reputation may be damaged, the organization is still making money. And I’ll add, isn’t that the bottom line?

Last edited 17 days ago by Badger
Oldbear48

Yes it is and they are not in the game to lose money. 5 players avoided arbitration. Smith, Thompson, Buehler, who will get 8.1 to not pitch, May, Ferguson, Soto gets 23 mil from the Pads. Smith’s deal is for a little over 5 mil.

Badger

ok, where does that put us against the CBT?

Smith for $5 million? What a deal.

Bumsrap

$5 million is a big paycheck but there are so many players making so much more and doing so much less.

Oldbear48

Urias just settled for a little over 14 mil.

Badger

$5.25 million for a 4 WAR catcher is a great deal for the Dodgers.

OhioDodger

Buehler $8M and he probably will not pitch an inning in 2023. How does that work? Are we just paying to retain his rights? Seems like they should have worked out some sort of 2 or 3 year extension.

Oldbear48

They did that two years ago, He is eligible for free agency after the 24 season.

Singing the Blue

Spotrac says the A’s 2023 payroll will be approximately 38 million.

The Dodgers will be paying Buehler and Bauer over 30 million not to pitch this year.

Bluto

Plus millions in deferred money they still are paying others.

Singing the Blue

I forgot Treinen, another 8 mil.

So, even without the deferred $, that equals the entire A’s payroll.

Badger

Well I thought I had figured we were a (-)Taylor away from being under the cap.

Nope.

I have no idea what’s going on, but I trust Friedman does. If it matters, do it. If it doesn’t matter don’t do it. We’ve only got weeks of this left before we play several weeks of games that don’t count. I don’t care. We’ll have a good team that will be competitive, probably be favored to do something, then the playoffs will happen. Nearly 9 months from now. That’s a pregnant amount of time and anyone who’s been through a pregnancy knows how long that process can be.

So we wait.

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