Dodgers option promising Gavin Lux off big league roster

ByAlden Gonzalez ESPN logo
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Gavin Lux, a popular pick to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award, won't begin the season in the major leagues.

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced Tuesday that they would instead option him off the active roster so he could get more plate appearances in a controlled environment, a luxury afforded to them by the presence of Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor.

Lux, 22, was the Dodgers' starting second baseman down the stretch last season, batting .240/.305/.400 in 82 plate appearances in September and going 2-for-9 in the NL Division Series. He was widely projected as a starter heading into 2020, but the Dodgers described second base as a wide-open competition dating to the spring. Lux then showed up late for the summer training portion -- he declined to specify the reason -- and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he "wasn't synced up" with his swing.

"He started playoff games last year; that just shows the confidence we have in him as a ballplayer, as a young man," Roberts said. "I just want him to get right."

The Dodgers also signed left-handed reliever Jake McGee, who was released by the division-rival Colorado Rockies four days earlier. McGee, who played under Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman when they were both with the Tampa Bay Rays, collected a 4.78 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP and a 3.04 strikeout-to-walk ratio with the Rockies over the past four years. But he had a 2.91 ERA on the road in 2019 and held opposing left-handed hitters to only a .240/.305/.400 slash line.

McGee had a less than auspicious Dodgers' debut. He allowed back-to-back home runs to Albert Pujols and Brian Goodwin during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night. McGee worked two-thirds of an inning and allowed two runs on three hits during the Dodgers' 6-4 victory.

Teams will field 30-man rosters to begin the 60-game season and Roberts says he expects to carry between 15 and 17 pitchers. With minor league baseball shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lux -- ESPN's second-highest-rated prospect heading into the season -- will work out of the team's alternate training site at USC until inevitably being activated again.

Under the current collective bargaining agreement -- which might change in a multitude of ways after the 2021 season -- the Dodgers would delay Lux's free agency by a year if they wait until sometime around early August to put him on their active roster.

The Dodgers informed him of their decision prior to Tuesday's exhibition game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, which saw Lux misplay a few balls at second base. Roberts says he believes the erratic defense was a byproduct of the circumstances weighing on him, not an indication of a long-term problem.

"It was just one of those nights," Roberts sad. "And it's probably my fault."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.