Notes from Dodgers FanFest: Field Center, Chris Taylor Offseason and More

LOS ANGELES — News about Miguel Rojas capped off a busy day of FanFest at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, as the former on and off Dodger signed a contract extension that guarantees him no less than $11 million over the next two seasons, with the club. For 2025 that guarantee could be pushed to $15 million.

Rojas, who will turn 34 shortly before Opening Day, is set to become a free agent after the season. The new deal will pay him $5 million in both 2023 and 2024, with a $1 million buyout if the Dodgers don’t pick up his last club option.

For Rojas, who was acquired by the Dodgers last month in search of Jacob Amaya, the deal provides more stability in the organization as he began his professional career in 2014 before being traded to Miami.

“When I got the news that I’m back in Los Angeles, I couldn’t have been happier,” Rojas said Saturday afternoon, hours before news broke of his term extension.

For the Dodgers, it’s a chance to keep a good defensive player who can hop around the field and hit left-handed pitching at an affordable rate—to make up for some of the lost club control they gave up in trading away Amaya, who could’ve expected a similar role over time.

Rojas is expected to slip into something of a utility role in Los Angeles, with both general manager Brandon Gomez and manager Dave Roberts saying this week that Gavin Lux expects to be the club’s daily shortstop. The longtime Marlins shortstop admitted that he knew he would likely be traded this winter, saying the Marlins were “looking for a new direction” and that Rojas entered the final year of his deal.

He’s also coming off the worst offensive season of his career, stalked in part by a second half in which he played with an uncomfortable right wrist. Since then, Rojas has ordered two procedures this winter to address the pain — one to repair a torn triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC), and another to remove a fragment of bone between his thumb and forefinger.

Rojas spoke on Saturdays without wearing a splint or a wrist splint. He’s been cleared to swing a couple of days ago and is expected to be ready to go when he gets to spring training. Rojas remains hopeful that he can represent Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic with Venezuela next month.

“I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get there,” he said, “and if I don’t feel 100 percent, I’m not going.” “I will decide with the organization what is the best thing to do, and I look forward to being 100 percent healthy for spring training.”

Some other notes from Dodgers FanFest, first since 2019:

The center field remains the club’s biggest question mark

“I think your guys’ guesses are as good as mine,” Roberts said when asked about the outlook for the position managed by former National League MVP Cody Bellinger.

They definitely have options. Chris Taylor has over 1,300 big league runs of experience at quarterback but is coming off an offensive season. He isn’t expected to spend much time on the field this summer and was the first name that popped up when Roberts pulled off options.

There’s Trayce Thompson, who bounced around eight different organizations between Dodger stints and emerged as a surprise second half upon his return in June. He remains athletic, with powerful leaps from the field even after a back problem sidelined his early career rise, but the question remains whether he can continue to hit well enough to overcome some swing and miss problems. This 74-game sampler in which he produced the .901 OPS is as good a stretch as ever.

It might be James Ottman the athleteHe chose Keith Law as his everyday quarterback. Law ranked him 89th on his list of the 100 Greatest Team Prospects and called him a “potential star”, even if Outman settles into becoming a regular hitter. But Outman’s big-league experience is limited to just 16 games.

Not on the list options include players with major league experience, including former Gold Glover Jason Heyward, Bradley Zimmer, and Steven Duggar, each of whom could play their part in a stronger consideration.

Taylor worked at Driveline during the winter

Taylor struggled offensively last season, his first in a four-year, $60 million deal. He’s a low 677 OPS (and 86 OPS+) since reinventing his career in Los Angeles starting in 2016 and no player has been hit more frequently than Taylor’s average of 35.2 percent.

So, a winter that also saw Taylor get married in Hawaii and honeymoon in Australia, he also flew to Seattle. There, at the Driveline Baseball facility, he worked with its staff and recorded information that has since been passed on to some of the Dodgers’ hitting staff. He said he benefited from working with weighted bats centered around generating the bat’s velocity and from tracking biometric data about the efficiency of his swing.

“A lot of our guys have done that,” Taylor said Saturday. “Everyone is in different amounts. I think just going there for a day and listening to what they have to say, is some valuable information. If you’re not making use of all the resources given to you, what are you really doing?… I think it would be very hard not to give it a chance.”

The Dodgers will be well represented at the World Baseball Classic

Includes some stars. Mookie Bates, Clayton Kershaw, Will Smith, and third base coach Dino Eppel will represent the United States. Freddie Freeman will again represent Team Canada — “I went 0-3 last time,” Freeman said of the country’s 2017 result, “so we’ll try a little change here.”

Julio Llorías and Austin Barnes will be part of the Mexico squad, with Brosdar Graterol joining Rojas among the players likely to represent Venezuela. Trace Thompson will also represent Great Britain at the event.

“It will be really interesting to see (the all-stars) participate,” Urías said in Spanish. “It will be a big match for the tournament, and I will be proud to face all these family names. It will be fun if they are their enemies (in the tournament).”

Urías mom talks about possible extension

Given the opportunity this week, both the Dodgers front office and Urías declined to reveal much regarding any potential extension talks the organization has with the 26-year-old left fielder.

“We have the WBC and then we have the season and so I’m focusing on those two things right now,” Urías said in Spanish. “My representatives and (the team) will have the opportunity to speak but I am 100 per cent focused on the pitch.”

Urías is slated to be a free agent after the season, having come off of notable seasons that saw him earn Cy Young votes. Pending a new deal, he will join a well-stocked class of rookie free agents that includes Shohei Ohtani, Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito, Luis Severino and Blake Snell, among others.

(Photo by Taylor: Kirby Lee/USA Today)


(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Related posts