The Dodgers traded for Miguel Rojas on Wednesday, adding a top defensive shortstop at a time when their shortstop situation was very much in question. But even with Rojas’s addition, the question of who will start at short still hasn’t been definitively answered.
According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, L.A.’s current plan is for Rojas to serve as a utility infielder, bouncing between short, second, and third. The mostly unspoken part of that plan is that Rojas would provide insurance in case Gavin Lux struggles defensively at shortstop.
Rojas hopped on local radio Wednesday evening after the trade was announced and talked about coming back to Los Angeles, where he made his big-league debut with the Dodgers as a 25-year-old in 2014. Rojas says he’s on board with whatever role L.A. has in mind for him.
“My main focus is play shortstop, to play second base, and to play third base, to play first base … wherever they need me, I’ll be ready to help. You guys know that I came up in ’14 and I played different positions and nothing has changed on that side.”
As good as Rojas is defensively, it could be his offense that determines where (and how much) he plays. He hit very well in the shortened 2020 season, posting a 138 OPS+ in 40 games, but overall in his career his OPS+ is 85, putting him 15% worse than the average big-league hitter. If he could hit at even a league-average rate, the Dodgers would be happy to plug him in as the everyday shortstop, but that’s a very big if right now.
Rojas is a veteran and a leader, and he appears ready to fill whatever role they need him in. His presence on the roster could end up being very valuable, filling the role they signed Hanser Alberto for last year but with better defense and hopefully better offense.