Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made waves earlier this month when he announced that superstar Mookie Betts would play shortstop this season. The former MVP and seven-time All-Star is entering his 11th big league campaign and has played only 31 games at shortstop throughout his professional career. It was surprising enough in December when Roberts revealed that Betts, a six-time Gold Glove winner in the outfield, would play second base in 2024.

However, while Betts dominated the headlines, this move arguably had more to do with his teammate, 26-year-old Gavin Lux. The Dodgers originally planned for Lux to be their starting shortstop, but he will now play second base instead. Although Lux was primarily a shortstop in the minor leagues, he has spent most of his major league career at second. He has handled the keystone well, earning 16 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and 8 Outs Above Average (OAA) in 1346 2/3 defensive innings.  As Lux prepares for a full-time role in 2024 (after missing the 2023 season with a torn ACL), the Dodgers decided it was in the young player’s best interests to keep him at second base for the time being.

When Roberts first spoke about the decision, he told reporters the new middle infield alignment was “permanent, for now” (per Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic). Those words are something of an oxymoron, so yesterday, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman offered a little more clarity on the situation. Speaking to Doug McKain of Dodgers Nation, Friedman said the team remains “confident” Lux can play shortstop in the future. They will re-evaluate his health and position as they “get into the offseason next year.” That certainly suggests Lux will play second base and Betts will handle shortstop for the full 2024 campaign, but nothing is set in stone for the following season and beyond. In 2025, Lux will be another year removed from major knee surgery, while Betts will be 32 years old, an age at which many players begin to move down the defensive spectrum.

More Dodgers news as the team prepares to open the 2024 season in South Korea…

  • According to Roberts, there is a “very good possibility” Kyle Hurt is in the Dodgers bullpen for the team’s opening series against the Padres at Gocheok Sky Dome (per Ardaya). Hurt, whom the team acquired from the Marlins in February 2021, has looked sharp so far this spring. The righty was selected to the 40-man roster last September and made one appearance for the big league squad, striking out three Padres batters in two scoreless innings of work. Nevertheless, he was optioned back to Triple-A the following day. As Ardaya notes, the Dodgers still see Hurt as a starting pitcher, but he has made appearances out of the bullpen in all three seasons of his professional career. He can offer the team a little extra bullpen depth early in the season before returning to the minor leagues to stretch back out as a starter. Hurt struck out five across 2 1/3 scoreless innings during an exhibition game against the Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO on Saturday.
  • Speaking to McKain, Friedman would not say the Dodgers are done making moves. “We really feel good about this team,” the executive explained. “That being said, we’ll continue to explore avenues, and if there’s ways to get better, we won’t hesitate.” Perhaps this should be every team’s approach to roster building, but hearing this from the Dodgers president is still notable. L.A. has significantly outspent every other team this offseason, signing the most sought-after MLB free agent, Shohei Ohtani, and the most sought-after international free agent, Yoshinobu Yamamoto. They also made a deal for one of the most talented players on the trade market, Tyler Glasnow, and inked him to a nine-figure extension. The Dodgers have won at least 100 games for three consecutive seasons, yet they arguably improved their roster more than any other team this winter.

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