Where can the Dodgers turn at shortstop with Mookie Betts out?

This was a terrible weekend for the Dodgers.

It started with Yoshinobu Yamamoto exiting his start early Saturday night. It ended with Mookie Betts taking a 97.9 mph fastball to the left hand Sunday. After the series finale against Kansas City, Dave Roberts revealed that both Yamamoto and Betts will each be out indefinitely, with Betts suffering a fractured hand.

Betts has been the everyday shortstop this season for the first time in his career, which was caused by the failure of anyone else, mainly Gavin Lux, to win the job in Spring Training. Now, with Betts down, the vacuum is reopened for the Dodgers at the most important position on the diamond.

The trade deadline remains more than a month away, and selling teams usually prefer to wait until July to begin dealing their pieces. The Dodgers will likely have to stay within the organization for now. Roberts will be forced to consider multiple options as Betts will be out indefinitely. Here are some players from the bench and the farm system who could be given opportunities at shortstop.


Miguel Rojas

The everyday shortstop last year, Miguel Rojas will likely be the first man up to take Betts’ place.

Rojas, an 11-year veteran, has had his best season at the plate since 2020 so far this year. Since being traded to the Dodgers in the offseason before 2023, he has become a leader in the locker room. Rojas has been instrumental this year in helping Betts adjust to his new position.

That said, Rojas has seen a sharp decline in his playing time compared to a season ago. His .772 OPS has come while only playing in 42 of Los Angeles’ 73 games. He has played in a strict platoon, with 23 of his 30 starts coming against left-handed pitchers.

Rojas has the experience and the defense to take over the position, but his numbers may suffer if he goes back to playing every day, where the majority of his at-bats would come against right-handed pitchers. Further, Rojas is 35 years old and would likely benefit from days off to keep him fresh.

Kiké Hernández

The other right handed platoon infielder on the roster, Kiké Hernández has also played a large amount of shortstop throughout his career. However, his offensive numbers have not been good this season, as he’s posted a .580 OPS overall and .494 OPS against right-handers.

Similar to Rojas, Hernández has been kept in a tight platoon role that has given him the best chance to succeed. For him to take on more regular reps at shortstop, he would have to attempt to hold his own in less favorable matchups.

If the Dodgers want to only fill Betts’ large shoes with players already in the Majors, then it is likely that Rojas and Hernández will cover the innings in some combination. However, with the uncertainty surrounding the offensive production of both in everyday roles, Los Angeles may want to look to the farm system for further reinforcements.

Trey Sweeney

Acquired in the offseason from the Yankees, former first round pick Trey Sweeney has been the everyday shortstop for Triple-A Oklahoma City this year.

Although his .743 OPS looks solid on the surface, Sweeney has a subpar 82 wRC+ given the offensive slanting of the Pacific Coast League. This is his first year at the Triple-A level and it is the first time in his professional career that he has posted a wRC+ below 100.

That said, Sweeney’s numbers have been drastically different depending the handiness of the pitcher he is facing. A left-handed batter, Sweeney has splits of an .846 OPS against right-handers compared to a .446 OPS against left-handers.

With intense struggles against lefties in Triple-A, it is unlikely that Sweeney would fare much better against Major League southpaws. However, with the previously mentioned opposite platoon splits of Rojas and Hernández, the Dodgers could conceivably set Sweeney up with plate appearances exclusively against right-handers.

Sweeney turned 24 in April, and the question of if he could be promoted heavily depends on his defense. He is not as good of a defender as either Rojas or Hernández, but he may be good enough to bridge the gap with his bat against right-handed pitching.

Austin Gauthier

A less conventional option, Austin Gauthier has been productive in the minors as a super utilityman who has played all over the diamond, including but not limited to shortstop.

Gauthier began 2024 as the everyday shortstop for Double-A Tulsa. He hit well enough that he earned a quick Triple-A promotion in early May. However, since arriving in Oklahoma City, Gauthier has not played a single inning at shortstop due to Sweeney’s hold on the position. Instead, Gauthier has split his time across left field, second base, third base and right field. He has been very productive offensively as a whole, posting a .425 OBP between Tulsa and OKC this year.

Gauthier bats right handed and is better against left-handed pitching, which may hurt his case for a call-up since the Dodgers already have similar players in Rojas and Hernández. But, if Los Angeles wants a player who can fill innings in multiple positions while also handling the occasional start at shortstop, Gauthier fits that mold.

Alex Freeland

The biggest breakout prospect in the system, Alex Freeland leads the organization with a 179 wRC+ this season. However, he is only in Double-A, and pure proximity to the Majors may be too large an obstacle for him to be considered for a Major League promotion.

To his credit, Freeland has the best defensive profile at shortstop between him, Sweeney and Gauthier. He is an above-average defender and has the best chance to stick at shortstop in the Majors. Additionally, Freeland is a switch-hitter who has done well from both sides of the plate this year. He is best when facing right-handed pitching, posting a 1.026 OPS in those matchups between High-A and Double-A.

Freeland is a tougher sell to get called up because he has only played 37 games in Double-A. Only 22 years old, he is not eligible for the Rule 5 Draft until 2025 and therefore does not need to be added to the 40-man roster before this offseason. That may be enough for the Dodgers to prioritize other options and keep Freeland on his expected path to an eventual debut in 2025 or 2026.

About Bruce Kuntz

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I'm a Long Beach State journalism student and I've been writing about the Dodgers and their farm system since I was in high school.