Miguel Rojas

From BR Bullpen

Note: This page is for major league infielder Miguel Rojas, for others with similar names, click here.

Miguel Rojas Fort Bragg.jpg

Miguel Elias Rojas Naidernoff

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 187 lb.

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Miguel Rojas is an infielder who made his major league debut in 2014.

Rojas signed with the Cincinnati Reds in November 2005; the scouts were Luis Baez and Maximo Rombley. In his pro debut, he struggled for the VSL Reds, hitting .178/.317/.197 with 8 RBI in 58 games. He made 24 errors at short, fielding .917. He split 2007 between the VSL Devil Rays/Reds (.228/.336/.337 in 30 G) and DSL Reds (4 for 16, 2B, 3 BB). In 2008, he came to the US with the Billings Mustangs but fell back under the Mendoza Line at .183/.248/.245, though he fielded .963 at SS (leading Pioneer League shortstops).

With the 2009 Dayton Dragons, Rojas put up a .273/.326/.339 line with 14 steals in 22 tries. He fielded .977 and Baseball America named him the best defensive shortstop in the Midwest League (he led the league's shortstops in fielding percentage and 220 putouts). That winter, he hit .287/.330/.330 for the Tiburones de La Guaira in his Venezuelan League debut (though he had played briefly in the 2007-2008 Venezuelan League postseason).

In 2010, Rojas's offensive production fell and he made stops with the AZL Reds (3 for 4), Lynchburg Hillcats (.230/.271/.270 in 74 G) and Carolina Mudcats (6 for 27, 2 BB). He only had six extra-base hits in 275 at-bats, while stealing 14 bases in 19 attempts. In 2010-2011, he batted .312/.378/.336 for La Guaira. Only Cesar Suarez had a better average among their players with 100+ at-bats. During the summer of '11, Rojas played for the AZL Reds (8 for 17, 3 2B, 6 BB) and Carolina (.259/.302/.285 in 68 G). He missed time with wrist and rotator cuff injuries. In the winter of 2011-2012, he posted a .298/.324/.356 line for the Tiburones.

During the 2012 Caribbean Series, Rojas joined the Tigres de Aragua and put on a strong effort. He hit .389/.500/.444 and was named the All-Star shortstop; the line is even more impressive as the 2012 Series was a pitcher-dominated affair. Of the tourney's All-Stars, only outfielder Jesus Feliciano had a better OPS and no one had a better OBP.

Rojas first reached the major leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2014 season, after having been signed as a minor league free agent following the 2012 season. He played 85 games in his rookie year but hit just .181 with 1 homer and 9 RBis for an OPS+ of 34. He appeared in one postseason game, making an out in his only at-bat of the Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. He saw most of his action at shortstop, but also appeared at third base. Already 25, it did not look at that point as if he had any chance of having a substantial big league career. However, he caught a big break after the season when he was traded by the Dodgers to the Miami Marlins as part of a big seven-player deal. Joining him in heading to Miami were IF Dee Gordon and P Dan Haren, in return for Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, Andrew Heaney and Kiké Hernandez. The trade ended up helping both teams.

With Miami in 2015, he improved to .282 in 60 games, although his lack of power, bringing his OPS+ to 94, a good number for his role of utility infielder. In 2016, he appeared in 123 games, but still had only 194 at-bats as he was used as a jack of all trades, seeing playing time at all infield positions, but being only used as a starter at shortstop and second base. He batted .247 with 1 homer and 14 RBIs for an OPS+ of 69. He began the transition to becoming a starter in 2017, when he had 272 at-bats, easily the most of his career thus far, in 90 games. He batted .290 and for the first time broke the 100 mark in OPS+, finishing at 103.

Rojas finally became a regular at age 29 in 2018 when he was the Marlins' most-used shortstop and batted .252 in 153 games. His 488 at-bats were almost double his previous season's total, he hit 11 homers when he had never hit more than one in any season before that, and his 44 runs, 123 hits and 53 RBIs were all also career bests. He did lead the National League in GiDP with 23, which contributed to lowering his OPS+ to 69. Still, he would remain a regular with Miami for the next four years as well. In 2019, he hit .284 in 132 games, and in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he was one of the main leaders on a young Marlins team that shocked the baseball world by qualifying for the expanded postseason. He hit .304 in 40 games that year (the team played a total of 60) and his OPS+ of 138 was the best of his career by a long shot. In the postseason, he went 2 for 7 with a run as Miami upset the Chicago Cubs in the Wild Card Series, and 1 for 11 in their loss to the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series. He was again the starting shortstop in both 2021 and 2022 while the team fell back to a more expected place in the standings, hitting .265 the first year and .235 the second, in 132 and 140 games respectively. His OPS+ was 93 the first year and 72 the second, tracking his batting average, given he was a bit of a throwback player most of whose offensive value came from his batting average and ability to hit single (he never again reached double figures in homers after having done so once in 2018). Part of his drop in production in 2022 was due to a wrist injury which required surgery after the season to remove cartilage. It should also be noted that his fielding at shortstop was always above average, and that he was a Gold Glove finalist twice during his tenure, even if he never won the award.

On January 11, 2023, he was sent back to the Dodgers, this time in a trade for a minor league prospect, infielder Jacob Amaya. He was the longest-tenured Marlins player at the time of the trade and was considered the unofficial team captain, but the move also likely marked the end of his time as a starter at 34. Still, the Dodgers had lost elite shortstops to free agency in back-to-back off-seasons, namely Corey Seager and Trea Turner, so there was an opportunity for Miguel to earn playing time if he could maintain decent offensive numbers. On February 4th, he signed a two-year extension with the Dodgers, including a club option for 2025. His importance to the team took a big jump in the first weeks of camp when Gavin Lux, who was expected to take over for Turner at shortstop, went down with a season-ending injury.

Primary Sources[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jordan McPherson (Miami Herald): "Miami Marlins trade Miguel Rojas to Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder prospect", Yahoo! News, January 11, 2023. [1]
  • Matthew Ritchie: "Rojas already helping LA on the field and off it: The veteran has been proving his worth defensively while also mentoring a top prospect", mlb.com, March 13, 2023. [2]
  • Juan Toribio: "Rojas, Dodgers reach contract extension", mlb.com, February 4, 2023. [3]
  • Sarah Wexler: "Dodgers shore up shortstop in trade for Miguel Rojas", mlb.com, January 11, 2023. [4]

Related Sites[edit]