Mookie Betts, second baseman. Now what for the Dodgers?

Mookie Betts (Photo: Cody Bashore)

On the first day of the Winter Meetings, Dave Roberts — not Andrew Friedman — provided the biggest bit of roster news for the Dodgers.

That … was unexpected.

Mookie Betts, 31, has spent 85 games (585 innings) at second base in his four seasons as a Dodger — 70 (485) of which came during the 2023 season. He got more playing time there last season due to Miguel Vargas‘ struggles and Max Muncy‘s permanent move to the hot corner. At the pivot, Betts turned in six defensive runs saved (FanGraphs) and -1 outs above average (Baseball Savant). He’s plenty capable of playing second base, as he came up through the minors at the keystone. It also bodes well for his long-term future in the game, as outfield is generally agreed upon to be more a dangerous position to play in a generally non-contact game. The plan was likely that he’d move to the dirt at some point during his 12-year contract, but most probably thought it was coming in a few years.

The timing move isn’t the worst thing for him and the Dodgers. Betts’ defense has gone from “elite” to “good” as he has begun to age. He’s not as fast as he once was, but he’s still a premium athlete. Losing a step won’t matter much at second base, as there isn’t as much running involved there.

What this move does is make for some interesting days ahead when it comes to roster construction. Vargas’ struggles were disappointing, but he still has some potential. Michael Busch doesn’t really seem to be in the team’s long-term plans, so he becomes even more of a trade chip. Chris Taylor — currently slated as the starting left fielder against left-handed pitching — may not see a ton of time at second base now. Miguel Rojas has always fared better as a bench player, so he won’t be impacted too much. And it’s safe to say Jorbit Vivas‘ days on the 40-man roster appear to be numbered.

Vargas and Busch could be used to acquire help elsewhere. Something that could make some sense is going after a guy like Tyler Glasnow from the Rays. He’s set to make $25 million this year in the last year of his deal, and we know the Rays don’t actually like to pay their players high salaries. What makes a potential Glasnow acquisition even more intriguing is there’s a chance someone like Randy Arozarena could be part of a bigger package. Yes, the acquisition cost would jump substantially, but the 28-year-old won’t be a free agent until after the 2026 season and could lock down left field for the foreseeable future.


The timeline for this move has accelerated, and how the Dodgers go about building the roster for 2024 (and beyond) has changed. Betts will probably still see time in right field, but his main home will be second base. The Dodgers still seem to be banking on Gavin Lux being the every day shortstop, while Betts’ move makes it easier to trade guys like Vargas and Busch, should other teams want them so the Dodgers can make improvements elsewhere.

Oh, and this move should have zero negative impact on pursuing Shohei Ohtani, who might decide where he’s signing sometime this week.

Here’s hoping for some action over the next few days.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.