Who could replace Gavin Lux? Four ways the Dodgers can fill the hole in their lineup

The Dodgers' Gavin Lux is loaded onto a cart with the help of a trainer and manager Dave Roberts after getting injured.
The Dodgers’ Gavin Lux is loaded onto a cart with the help of a trainer and manager Dave Roberts after getting injured running to third base against the San Diego Padres during a spring training game Monday in Peoria, Ariz.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

It might not have been a house of cards. But after an offseason talent exodus and significant turnover in the clubhouse, the Dodgers’ roster seemed to be built almost like a Jenga tower.

Strong and steady as constructed, but dangerously vulnerable with even a few missing pieces.

The first piece was pulled out Tuesday when manager Dave Roberts announced shortstop Gavin Lux would miss the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.


It was a blow for Lux, the 25-year-old former top prospect who solidified himself as a big leaguer last year and was looking forward to his first opportunity as the everyday shortstop.

“That’s one of the hardest parts,” he said Tuesday, leaning on crutches and fighting back tears. “Every baseball player’s dream is to play shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers.”

It also creates tricky new hurdles for the Dodgers to clear, throwing their plans out of whack just three games into spring training.

What the team does next is anyone’s guess.

The Dodgers could explore the remaining players available in free agency. They could evaluate the trade market for either a minor addition or major splash. They could stand pat, sliding Miguel Rojas to shortstop while rearranging other pieces — such as Chris Taylor and Mookie Betts — to provide more infield depth.

Roberts said the club is evaluating its options. Here are four of them:


Stick with internal replacements

Dodgers shortstop Miguel Rojas warms up prior to a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs.
Dodgers shortstop Miguel Rojas warms up prior to a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday in Phoenix.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)


The easiest, and maybe most likely, option is do nothing.

Rojas can playshortstop, where he is strong defensively but might struggle at bat. And on days Rojas, second baseman Miguel Vargas or third baseman Max Muncy needs a game off, Taylor and Betts can rotate in from the outfield.

It isn’t ideal. The Dodgers would be without an established backup infielder. Their last position player spot likely would come down to Yonny Hernández or Luke Williams (infielders acquired after they were designated for assignment this offseason), Michael Busch or James Outman (highly touted prospects but with question marks), or Bradley Zimmer or Steven Duggar (veteran outfielders in camp on minor league contracts).

The Dodgers’ lineup likely would take a hit. Lux had the team’s fourth-highest batting average (.276) last season and was being asked to help compensate for the loss of Trea Turner.

David Peralta, Trayce Thompson and maybe even Jason Heyward — outfielders who seemed in line for part-time platoon roles — probably would need more at-bats to add some offense.

Still, it might be enough to get the Dodgers through the first half of the year, keep them atop the standings and in position for trade deadline activity.


“What we do have will be more than sufficient,” Roberts said, “but we’re always trying to get better, whether it’s internally or externally.”

Follow along for the latest news and analysis from Dodgers spring training at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix ahead of the 2023 MLB season.

Feb. 28, 2023


Add the top remaining free-agent bat

San Diego Padres' Jurickson Profar reacts after striking out during the ninth inning in Game 3 of the NLCS.
San Diego Padres’ Jurickson Profar reacts after striking out during the ninth inning in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies on Oct. 21, 2022, in Philadelphia.
(Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

If the Dodgers look outside for help, Jurickson Profar beckons as perhaps the most productive hitter left in free agency.

The former San Diego Padres switch-hitter wouldn’t be a perfect fit defensively. He has experience at shortstop and second base but is more suited to be a corner outfielder.

However, if the team does play Taylor and Betts more often in the infield, Profar could factor into the outfield rotation and contribute at the plate.


Last year the 30-year-old Profar posted above-league-average numbers for the third time in the last five seasons, including a .723 on-base-plus-slugging percentage that ranked among the best on the Padres’ 89-win team.

Profar wouldn’t be the cheapest option. He’s still a free agent because no team has met his asking price. And the Dodgers already signed another veteran outfielder in Peralta for $6.5 million (plus incentives), a salary Profar possibly could exceed.

But if the Dodgers are looking for another bona-fide big league bat, Profar offers perhaps the most intriguing possibility.


Look for another depth piece

Chicago Cubs' Andrelton Simmons celebrates with teammates in the dugout after scoring.
Chicago Cubs’ Andrelton Simmons (19) celebrates with teammates in the dugout after scoring during the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox on May 28, 2022, in Chicago.
(Paul Beaty / Associated Press)

Profar isn’t the only free agent who might make sense.

As of Tuesday, the market still included experienced infielders José Iglesias and Andrelton Simmons — players who have struggled offensively in recent seasons but have track records as strong defensive shortstops and probably would be relatively inexpensive.


Near the end of spring, there could be more options as teams trim their rosters and minor-league invitees reach the opt-out dates of their contracts. Any player in this category probably wouldn’t see regular at-bats with the Dodgers. But they could help replace Rojas in a defensive utility role, providing depth in case Vargas struggles to adapt to second base or other injuries ravage the infield.

But finding a significant upgrade over Hernández or Williams, or the addition of another outfielder already in camp, is no sure thing.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed that shortstop Gavin Lux has a torn ACL in his right knee and is expected to miss the 2023 season.

Feb. 28, 2023


Try to swing a blockbuster trade

Milwaukee Brewers' Willy Adames thorws during a spring training workout on Feb. 16 in Phoenix.
(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

This probably makes more sense closer to the deadline. But if the Dodgers want to make a major move before the season, the trade market might offer the most impactful opportunities.

Several shortstops were rumored to be available this offseason, from Willy Adames of the Milwaukee Brewers to Amed Rosario of the Cleveland Guardians.


The Dodgers have plenty of prospect capital too, finishing last season with the second-highest-ranked farm system, according to MLB Pipeline.

To swing a trade now, however, the Dodgers almost certainly would have to overpay, with all 29 other clubs well aware of their situation.

Chalk it up as another imperfect solution.

For now, the Dodgers still are a contender. Their Jenga tower still is standing.

But it’s already starting to look shaky. And they’ll be spending the rest of camp trying to find the right remedy.