Can Josh Rojas be the Mariners answer at second base?

We look into Josh Rojas' recent performance. Is it sustainable and can he be the answer to the Mariners questions at second base.

Baltimore Orioles v Seattle Mariners
Baltimore Orioles v Seattle Mariners / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

The Mariners acquired Josh Rojas in a deal that sent Paul Sewald to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jerry Dipoto said that getting Rojas was a dealbreaker for them. Dipoto and the Mariners have been searching for a solution at second base since the Robinson Cano days, with guys like Dee Strange-Gordon, Shed Long Jr., Abraham Toro, Adam Frazier, and this year Kolten Wong attempting to hold the keystone steady.

The next man to attempt to provide at least major league average production will be Josh Rojas. Does he have what it takes to finally fill a void in the Mariners offense and middle infield?

Josh Rojas is a 29-year-old infielder from the University of Hawaii. He was drafted in the 26th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros. He went to the Diamondbacks as part of the package that sent Zack Greinke to the Houston Astros. He made his debut late in 2019 getting only 157 plate appearances and putting up an unimpressive slash line of .217/.312/.312. In 2020 it was more of the same in the shortened season as he only got 70 plate appearances and put up a .180/.257/.180 slash line before his season ended with an injury.

In 2021 Rojas finally broke out as the starting 2nd-baseman. He put up a .264/.341/.411 slash line with 11 home run and 9 stolen bases. He completed a slightly above average 102 WRC+ and an impressive 10.5% walk rate and 24.9% strikeout rate. Rojas built upon that impressive season with an even more impressive season hitting .269/.349/.391 and 9 home runs with a career-high 23 stolen bases. He flashed a better eye with a 10.8% walk rate and a 19.2% strikeout rate.

The Mariners acquired Rojas just before the trade deadline and he struggled mightily in his first 4 games going 0 – 13 with 3 strikeouts. His at-bats were tough to watch as well. He wasn’t making hard contact; he was rolling over and fairly unimpressive. In the last 9 games, Rojas is 11 for 30 with a HR and 5 RBIs, but he is making hard contact and looks more comfortable at the plate.

He has historically fared better against right-handed pitchers, so once we have a healthy JP Crawford, I would look to see a regular platoon of him and Dylan Moore at the keystone with Rojas getting a lot of opportunities to show his 2021 and 2022 seasons were not a fluke. His upside is much greater than guys like Jose Caballero, who is better suited as a bench infielder or late game pinch runner, or Sam Haggerty, who has historically been better against left-handed pitchers.

I am a believer in Rojas as a platoon sort of a player that gets a lot of at-bats against right-handed pitchers and being a 105 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. I think there is always an ability to acquire a more talented middle infielder in the offense and push Rojas to a utility role, which would deepen your team significantly, but right now, I think Rojas is a solid option against right-handed pitchers and think that he can be a regular contributor for the Mariners down the stretch.