What Can the Dodgers Do About the Struggling Miguel Vargas?

The 2023 season was supposed to be the year of Miguel Vargas. All offseason, the Dodgers hyped up the 23-year-old infield prospect telling us the bat was electric and the glove had a lot of room to improve. Plus he was making a position change, moving from mostly first and third base to second base. As the season approaches the halfway mark, things have turned out quite the opposite.

Defensively, the rookie has made huge leaps at the keystone, turning himself into a capable glove up the middle. But the offense has stayed well behind. And, of late, it’s been practically nonexistent.

Vargas has just 2 hits in his last 42 at-bats, good for a batting average below .050. On the season he’s hitting just .201 and his .678 OPS is leaving a sizeable void in the LA batting order.

So, What Can the Dodgers Do With Miguel Vargas?

They can keep running him out there and hope that the career .313 minor league hitter finds something in his swing that gets him back to using the whole field. But it seems like that ship may have sailed. Dave Roberts recently said more days off are likely coming for Vargas and fellow rookie infielder Michael Busch may end up taking some time at the position.

Of course, Busch’s .200 average isn’t exactly screaming put me in, coach.

Roberts can also pivot to giving Mookie Betts more time at second base, something that surely would make the Gold Glove winning outfielder ecstatic. For what it’s worth, Mookie is hitting .314 when he plays at second base. That’s ~60 points higher than he’s hitting as a right fielder. Betts in the infield frees up more playing time in the outfield for David Peralta and Jason Heyward against right-handed pitchers.

Both veterans are hitting significantly better than the rookie Vargas.

Other Internal Options

One guy who has played extremely well at second base in the Dodger organization and has received little love for it is Jahmai Jones. The 25-year-old has some big league experience, getting into 29 games with the Angels and Orioles over the 2020 and 2021 seasons. He’s been a pleasant surprise for the Triple-A team this season, hitting .293 with 30 extra base hits and 30 RBI in 59 games. His .984 OPS is second best on the squad.

Jones spent time with the Dodgers during spring training so he’s not exactly a stranger to the clubhouse.

The Dodgers could also look at calling up their 2018 5th round draft pick Devin Mann who has had a great season at AAA Oklahoma City so far. He’s about the only guy with better numbers than Jones, with a .313 batting average and team-leading .994 OPS and 37 extra base hits. At 26, he’s on the older side in prospect terms, so it doesn’t hurt to give him a shot in some capacity.

He’s played mostly third base for OKC this season but has ample experience all over the diamond in parts of five seasons in the organization.

Could the Dodgers Trade for a Miguel Vargas Replacement?

Sure. Of course. But the options… aren’t great out there. And there are more than a dozen teams looking to improve on the margins any way they can.

This summer, there won’t be any Brandon Drury types available. Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson could be available, but they could be looking to bring in a big haul for the former all star. Thankfully, the continued futility of the Sox is making it more and more likely that the club will have no choice but to cut bait and try to bring in some prospects for a long haul rebuild.

They have a few starting pitchers and relievers laying around that could use a pennant race to reinvigorate them.

Another club that could look to trade an asset or two is the last place St. Louis Cardinals who, at this point, would need a miracle to secure a playoff berth. Infielders Tommy Edman and Paul DeJong seem like the most likely options to be moved at the deadline.

Clint Pasillas

Clint Pasillas has been writing, blogging, and podcasting about the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2008. Under Clint's leadership as the Lead Editor, Dodgers Nation has grown into one of the most read baseball sites in the world with millions of unique visitors per month. Find him online on Twitter/X or his YouTube channel!

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