The Dodgers need a new shortstop. Again.
Gavin Lux has suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, manager Dave Roberts announced on Tuesday, which is expected to keep Lux out this season.
The news came a day after Lux sustained his injury, when his knee gave way during a spring training game against the San Diego Padres.
The moment Lux tumbled to the ground and grabbed onto his right leg, it was clear that the Dodgers’ backcountry plans were about to be significantly altered.
After losing last year’s starter, Trea Turner, in free agency, and not signing any of the other big names in the market this winter, the Dodgers planned to let Lux fill the gap this year, in the hope the former top prospect could live up to his potential. on its natural defensive position.
Instead, an MRI on Monday confirmed not only Lux’s worst nightmares, but the team’s as well.
Without Lux, Miguel Rojas, the former Marlins veteran who was acquired by the Dodgers in a trade last month to serve as a utility player, is the Dodgers’ only natural internal shortstop replacement option.
“It’s a shame what happened to Luxy,” said Rojas, who texted Lux as soon as he saw video of his injury on Monday. “But if that means playing shortstop, then that’s what I have to do. I have prepared for this opportunity. I have to be ready.”
Rojas has a strong record as a defender, but his bat has been in decline over the last few seasons, including a .236 average last year while hampered by right hand and wrist ailments (he underwent two off-season surgeries to repair the injuries to deal with). ).
Pushing Rojas into the starting line-up would also create more shortcomings in the squad. The Dodgers would have to find another player to give them depth in the field – something they don’t have much of elsewhere in their organization. And if rookie second baseman Miguel Vargas struggles to adapt to his position defensively, they could no longer rely on Rojas as a backstop.
That scenario may not adequately replace Lux’s bat either.
Last season, the 25-year-old former first-round pick impressed with a .276 average and power numbers that improved as the year progressed.
The Dodgers hoped his development would continue into 2023, possibly helping to soften the blow of losing a crucial piece in Turner from the team’s 111-win last year.
Instead, before the calendar has even moved to March, the Dodgers have been forced to go back to the drawing board, trying to come up with a new way to bolster their suddenly thinning depth.
They could look outside the organization, with veteran big leaguers like Jurickson Profar and José Iglesias still hanging around as unsigned free agents. They could explore the trading market for a shortstop replacement such as Willy Adames or Tim Anderson, although closing a deal now may require a significant oversupply from other clubs aware of their desperate position.
Either way, the Dodgers’ roster was tricky enough to balance with all of their players healthy.
That’s why Tuesday’s news was such a blow to both Lux and the team, leaving the Dodgers with few obvious or attractive options to try next.