Miguel Rojas trade right for 2023 Miami Marlins on one condition

Dealing Miguel Rojas might make sense in the long term, but there’s only one way it makes sense for the Miami Marlins in 2023.

Wednesday evening, the Miami Marlins moved on from their longest tenured player, dealing team captain and starting shortstop Miguel Rojas to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for infield prospect Jacob Amaya.

Ironically, it was from the Dodgers that the Marlins first acquired Rojas, back in December of 2014. At that time, he was seemingly a throw in, an infield depth piece brought in along with Dee Strange-Gordon and Dan Haren. Whether or not he was ever good enough offensively, outside of an aberrational 2020, to warrant being an MLB starter is up for debate. His evolution into one of baseball’s best defenders at his position is not; Rojas was a Gold Glove runner-up in 2023, and it wasn’t the first time he garnered recognition either. Also beyond question was the leadership role he took on once this most recent Miami Marlins rebuild got underway. That, along with a slick glove and work ethic, made him a lineup fixture these past five years.

Even in the dog days of the rebuild, it would be fair to say he has never been even the second-most talented player on the Miami Marlins roster. But, from Opening Day 2018 to the last day of the 2022 season, he has nevertheless been the face of the franchise. Like so many previous faces though, he’s gone now, off to greener pastures and a chance at immediately contending.

Was this the right move for the Miami Marlins? It’s entirely up to what the front office does next.

In a vacuum? Absolutely. Rojas is going to be 34 years old come Opening Day, and was going to be a free agent after the season. The prospect they got in return basically projects to be Rojas, possibly as soon as this season. Trading one year of control for six in that case is a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, the problem is that such a move can’t be viewed in a vacuum, particularly not with this franchise.

Now, helping the Marlins out in this case is the fact that Rojas had become an offensive liability over the past two seasons. Most fans wanted a new starting shortstop in 2023. Miami’s lineup was difficult enough to watch in 2022 when Jazz Chisholm was healthy, and became unbearable to once he went on the shelf. There might not be more than four shortstops in MLB that can match Rojas defensively … but there might be four players on Miami’s 40-man roster who can play shortstop and put up a better slash line at the plate.

Still, it’s hard to argue that this trade by itself makes the Marlins better in 2023.

Unless, of course, the $5 million they just saved gets used to fix a bigger hole on the roster.

The Marlins cannot pocket that savings, or even intimate that it is going towards the salaries of Johnny Cueto and Jean Segura. Those dollars need to be reinvested. Maybe that’s a high leverage reliever. Maybe that’s a centerfielder. Maybe it’s something else entirely that helps boost the offense.

Just so long as the club isn’t done adding. They’ve said as much to this point. Now they just have to go out and execute.

If the Miami Marlins do that, their fans are smart enough to recognize the need to move on from a player this popular. If they don’t though, it will just be another example of a front office being shockingly tone deaf when it comes to the club’s history.