The Los Angeles Dodgers had plans to enter the 2023 MLB season with Gavin Lux as their starting shortstop, taking over for Trea Turner, who departed in free agency by signing an 11-year, $300 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason. All was well until Lux, during a fairly routine play, tore his ACL after his leg bent at an awkward angle while running the bases during the Dodgers’ exhibition game against the Padres last week.
Lux was already slated to take over the starting job at shortstop, as evidenced by the Dodgers not making any significant roster moves to fill the void this offseason after letting Turner walk in free agency. However, with the injury, the Dodgers now face a big hole in one of baseball’s most important positions.
Miguel Rojas, who made his MLB debut with the Dodgers in 2014 before spending the next eight seasons with the Miami Marlins, is back for a second stint in Los Angeles and has been named the starting shortstop to replace Lux. The Dodgers made a trade for Rojas in January as additional infield depth but did not anticipate the need for him to play as the everyday shortstop.
As such, the Dodgers could explore the following additional options to bolster their production at the shortstop position.
Option #1: Chris Taylor
Luckily, the Dodgers already have a natural shortstop on their roster. Yes, Taylor has played consistently in the outfield and the infield, but his experience at a demanding position could make for the easiest transition after Lux’s injury. Taylor logged only one game at shortstop in 2022, but has played 259 games at the position across his nine-year MLB career.
Taylor will not replace the offensive output that you lose with Lux out long term (.221/.304/.373 in 2022), but he gives you a proven, in-house option given the abrupt need for a replacement so close to the start of the season.
According to ESPN, Taylor told reporters that he had already adjusted his offseason throwing program in case he was needed at shortstop. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, they may need to see him in that position more often than originally planned.
Looking at Taylor’s WAR of 0.5 in 2022, he is just barely above replacement level, even for someone that plays nearly every day (118 games played in 2022).
Add in a dWAR of -0.4, and it’s clear that Taylor is not the best option for the Dodgers overall, but his versatility gives the team the flexibility to drop him in without needing to go out and spend money at a premium position.
Option #2: Amed Rosario
When you think about Rosario, you may not immediately think of a consistent offensive player but he is sneakily good, and making a trade for him will have its upside. Over his past two seasons with the Cleveland Guardians, Rosario slashed .282/.316/.406 with an OPS+ of 103.
In 2022 alone, Rosario lead the American League with nine triples and 134 singles in 153 games. Also, his 71 RBI was the fifth-highest tally for all American League shortstops. By comparison, Lux drove in 42 RBI in 129 games last season.
Rosario is playing through 2023 on a one-year, $7.8 million contract, which could make the perfect rental while Lux recovers from his injury and gives you assurance that he’ll play nearly every day.
In his six-year career, excluding the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Rosario has played at least 153 games on three occasions.
Defensively, Rosario is a mixed bag. His outs above average (OAA) was -7 and his dWAR was -0.2, but he finished 2022 with the fifth-highest fielding percentage of all AL shortstops (.977), and his ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 9.4 lead all AL shortstops, according to FanGraphs.
Granted, it would take a significant deal to acquire Rosario from the reigning AL Central champs.
Option #3: José Iglesias
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Iglesias would be the least favorite of the players listed here. He does not give you much offense and his defense has been in decline, but he is familiar with the division after spending the 2022 season with the Colorado Rockies.
Iglesias got off to a hot start to last season, hitting .317 with an OBP of .367 through May 31. Even though he hit some highs and lows through the rest of the season, he hit .301 in divisional play.
To Iglesias’ credit, he finished the year hitting .292 with an OBP of .328 and neither were helped by the Rockies’ spacious Coors Field. On the road, Iglesias was a much better hitter as his slash line tells us and his BABIP was nearly 100 points higher in only 37 more at-bats.
Unfortunately, there was not much upside outside of what you see above. Iglesias has never been known for his power or run production (three home runs, 47 RBI in 2022) and he scored only 48 runs last season.
On the basepaths, he wasn’t much better as he tallied only two stolen bases in five attempts on the year. Could the larger bases influence a higher total in 2023? That answer will have to wait.
Lastly, despite Iglesias being the active career leader in fielding percentage as a shortstop (.982), he registered an OAA of 0 in 2022. From 2019-21, Iglesias’ OAA at shortstop has been 14, 3, and 0. 2022 brought his success rate as a defender to a career-worst 69 percent in 427 attempts, according to Statcast.
Keeping in mind that using Iglesias would be a short-term rental, his WAR of 1.2 shows he is still slightly above replacement level so kicking the tires on him could prove to be somewhat worth it.