Dodgers Team News

Dodgers: Michael Busch Faces ‘Tough Path’ to Playing Time with LA

One of the most intriguing storylines of 2023 is going to be just how committed the Dodgers are to the idea of a “youth movement.” It’s basically a sure thing that Miguel Vargas is going to get a ton of playing time, but beyond that, there are questions, especially in center field and at second base.

James Outman is the young option in center, but there have been rumors all offseason about LA pursuing a trade for a center-fielder. They also signed Jason Heyward, Steven Duggar, and Bradley Zimmer to minor-league deals, all of whom have played center field at time in their careers.

Second base is even murkier. Their top 2B prospect is Michael Busch, but they seem hesitant to commit to him. Over at The Athletic, Fabian Ardaya did a mailbag column and was asked about Busch.

Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts have mentioned making a runway for Miguel Vargas. What about Michael Busch? He is already 25 and seems he needs his shot at regular playing time. — Mike W.

The problem is, unlike Vargas, the Dodgers don’t really have a place to play Busch. Vargas is passable at third base and will grow into left field, and the evaluations at second base seem promising enough. Busch will need to make strides to handle second base defensively. And while Busch has hit well at Triple A (an .823 OPS, or 102 wRC+), the Dodgers appear much higher on Vargas’ bat.

Busch can definitely play his way into a role, but he might be the position player with the toughest path to playing time behind Vargas and Outman.

The banning of the shift is a big factor here. Busch was a first baseman in college before the Dodgers quickly converted him to second base, but that was back when second base was a position where you could hide a defensively challenged player. Even with the shift, Busch has always been a “he’ll hit well enough to mask his defensive issues” kind of guy, but without the shift, the bat might not be enough of a mask.

Busch, like Vargas, has played some left field in the minors, but it’s unclear whether that’s a real option for him. Baseball Prospectus said last month his path to the majors might be in a utility role, but second base and left field — remember, the Dodgers don’t really need a backup first baseman — might not be enough defensive flexibility to earn a spot.

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Jeff Snider

Jeff was born into a Dodgers family in Southern California and is now raising a Dodgers family of his own in Utah. During his previous career as an executive at a technology company, he began writing about baseball in his spare time. After leaving corporate America in 2014, he started doing it professionally. Jeff wrote and edited for Baseball Essential for years before joining Dodgers Nation. He's also the co-host of the Locked On Dodgers podcast, a daily podcast that brings the smart fan's perspective on our Boys in Blue. Jeff has a degree in English from Brigham Young University. Favorite Player: Clayton Kershaw Favorite Moment: Kirk Gibson's homer will always have a place, but Kershaw's homer on Opening Day 2013 might be the winner.


  1. He’s an excellent athlete that Dodger’s MiLB prospect guru’s say can handle 2nd base but there is a crowd with Vargas, Muncy and Rojas all slated for playing time. Busch was a noted high school quarterback and also played hockey. He’s a gritty ball player who will find a way in the Majors with someone. The dude can hit and leaves it all on the field.
    This is one of those age old baseball have to be anointed to be given the opportunity to play. He’ll get traded and fans will be saying “Oh yeah, wasn’t he a Dodger once?”
    See also Drew Avons, the second coming of Lenny Dykstra, a CF’er stuck at AAA while we shop for the Steven Duggars etc. of the world.

  2. Busch and Vargas make a nice platoon pairing where Busch is at 2B vs righties and Vargas at 3B vs lefties. Muncy, CT3, Lux and Rojas can fill the gaps and Busch/Vargas can DH/LF on Kershaw and Urias days.
    Dodgers might not start the year this way but I’d be surprised if Busch isn’t up by the end of the year.

  3. The guy needs an honest opportunity. What’s he rated: the #2 2B prospect in all of MLB? This is the Dodgers org outsmarting themselves again…


  4. I am going to be frank here. If Friedman is counting on Outman and Vargas to step up and fill the gaps they are delusional. It’s looking to be a pretty depressing season. Friedman literally did nothing in the off season. He’s saving the money for Ohtani. At this point, I believe the Padres have to be favored to win the west. Our pitching is questionable, and besides Freeman, Betts, Smith, Lux, and hopefully, Taylor and Thompson, it looks like run production may fall off big time. My prediction is that the Dodgers fight the Giants for third place in the West, and they don’t make the playoffs. We will have to wait and see. I sure hope I am wrong. Put putting this kind of pressure on the young guns may backfire.

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