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The Massive Hype of Miguel Vargas

Outman and Vargas

This past winter the Dodgers announced that Mookie Betts would be moving to second base permanently. This was an important announcement because it unceremoniously ended Miguel Vargas’s Dodger career. Before you ask, yes Vargas is still a Dodger and still on the 40-man roster. But let’s read between the lines. Vargas was given a shot in 2023, and was unable to adjust to major league pitching. The Dodgers are going back with the veterans this season. Let’s take a look at a few of the events that led to this.

The Dodgers signed Vargas as a free agent in 2017. He started to get noticed by the scouts and minor league experts a few years ago. Vargas put up strong numbers in the minors eventually leading to a late season call-up in 2022. In 18 games and 50 plate appearances he batted .170 (8 for 47) but it was expected that he would get more playing time the following season, and he did.

It didn’t go well for Vargas and the Dodgers in 2023. Vargas played in 81 games and across 304 plate appearances hit just a paltry .195 (50 for 256) with 7 home runs and an OPS+ of 81. Vargas had more strikeouts (61) than hits (50), and walks (38). The Dodgers gave him as much rope as they could in hopes that he could transition to being a major league hitter, but by June it was becoming clear that the Dodgers were going to have to send Vargas back down to Oklahoma City. They eventually did.

It’s a tale as old as time here for Vargas. A young player tears up the minors and when called up to the majors, can’t make the adjustments to big league pitching. I know some of you will tell me that it can take years for some prospects to develop, or that “progress isn’t linear” or Keith Law says he’s a budding star! I get all of this, but let’s be real here. Vargas has gotten more chances than some players ever get. Most never even reach the majors. In comparison Michael Busch, another hyped prospect only played in a handful of games before the club shipped him to the Cubs for a pair of minor leaguers. Busch didn’t get three months of playing time.

So when the Dodgers made the statement that Mookie was moving to second base, Vargas’s position, it seems as if he doesn’t have a place on the MLB roster. Gavin Lux is returning to shortstop. The Dodgers also have Chris Taylor and Miguel Rojas who can play second base. There have been rumors that he could see some time in the outfield, but he’s blocked there too. The Dodgers have James Outman, and Jason Heyward slated to start in the outfield, and they acquired Teoscar Hernandez and Manuel Margot in offseason acquisitions.

The Dodgers simply couldn’t justify wasting any more at-bats on him. In 99 major league games and over 350 plate appearances Vargas is a .191 hitter. Manager Dave Roberts recently made comments to the media that Vargas still is an important part of the Dodger’s future. Sure he has to say this. He can’t speak the truth. He’s not going to go on record and say “Nope, Vargas sucks, he’s got a one-way ticket back to the minors”.

This is why it’s so important to watch these guys play. We can read scouting reports and grades all we want, but results are what matter here. When I saw Vargas play, I wasn’t impressed. He looks like a weak hitting middle infielder with little power. He didn’t play his position exceptionally well either. Look, Vargas is very young and has the benefit of time on his side. He can improve, adjust and become a productive big league player. But if Vargas wants to carve out his place on the Dodger’s roster he’s going to have to show the team something, anything to give management confidence he can contribute.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

4 thoughts on “The Massive Hype of Miguel Vargas

  1. The Dodgers invested a lot on several Cuban youngsters who ended up a bust. They threw millions of dollars to these immature teenagers, who lacked the ability to take advantage of the opportunity.Fortunately, Vargas only cost the Dodgers $800-$900K or so.

    Vargas was given every opportunity to succeed…. More than many other rookies, especially like Michael Busch. Now, the Dodgers may have lost another talented player in the process.

    Lessons learned, I hope.

  2. Scott, another very informative post. It is very true that Vargas would be hard pressed to succeed on the Dodgers. It reminds me of the story of Andy LaRoche who was given 3rd base and could never succeed. I think the Dodgers should quit giving positions away to young players without them earning them. Go Dodgers!!

    1. LaRoche was one of the most massively hyped prospects of that time, I remember. Most prospects never make it, and today’s prospect hype culture puts even more pressure on these young kids to immediately transform into All-stars.

  3. Not sure what the point was, but I think we are all hoping Vargas (and Busch to the other guy’s point) do as well as they can!

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