Gavin Lux was drafted by the Dodgers as a shortstop and came up through the minors as a shortstop. After spending his first four seasons mostly as a second baseman because Los Angeles had Corey Seager and then Trea Turner, Lux was set to become the full-time starter at short for the first time this season.
Those plans were thrown into doubt on Monday afternoon when Lux crumpled to the ground in pain, clutching his right knee. Lux had been on second base when Luke Williams hit a grounder to third, and as Lux planted to swerve to avoid the third baseman, his right leg gave way and he somersaulted to third base. He spent several minutes on the ground, visibly emotional as the trainers and manager Dave Roberts talked with him, before being carted off the field.
At this moment, we don’t know how serious the injury is. Roberts deferred comment on the severity of the injury until test results come in. But it seems possible, and probably even likely, that Lux will miss a decent amount of time with this injury. If so, what options do the Dodgers have?
For starters, Lux isn’t the only player on the active roster who came up as a shortstop. That also applies to both Chris Taylor and Miguel Rojas. Either of them could slide in as the starter at short, with pros and cons to both. Rojas has more extensive recent experience at short and would surely provide better defense, but he’s rarely been even an average hitter in his career. He’s also slated to be everyone’s backup in the infield, so plugging him in as the starter opens up a different hole, one that is harder to fill.
Taylor had a terrible season last year, but he worked hard this offseason and is fully healthy, so they expect better things from him this year. His defense probably wouldn’t be as good as Rojas’s, but offensively he’s a better bet to hit well. At the moment, Taylor seems likely to play mostly in the outfield, so making him the starter at short would open up a hole in the outfield. But with Trayce Thompson, Jason Heyward, and James Outman currently battling for two spots anyway, that outfield hole is probably easier to fill than in the infield.
Roberts mentioned both Rojas and Taylor for immediate options when talking to Kirsten Watson after Monday’s game.
Those are the internal options. The third option would be for LA to hit the trade market, like we thought they might do all offseason. Willy Adames is still a reasonably attractive trade target, if the Brewers change course and decide to make him available. Or you could rewrite that last sentence about Tim Anderson and the White Sox, and it would still be true. The best shortstop still available on the free-agent market is probably Jose Iglesias, but if he’s the answer, I don’t want to know the question.
Los Angeles has the pieces to fill a Lux absence internally, and they have the prospect capital to make a trade if necessary. The first step is to see how long he’s going to be out and go from there.
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