When the Marlins and Dodgers pulled off a seven-player trade last winter, everyone was talking about Miami receiving All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon. Quite a few people were talking about how the Fish gave up their top pitching prospect, Andrew Heaney, and received the threatening-to-retire Dan Haren to seemingly fill the void. Not many people were talking about the Marlins also receiving infielder Miguel Rojas in the deal.
While Gordon continued to cement himself as one of the top second baseman in baseball last season, and Dan Haren was fairly effective in his handful of starts for the Marlins before he was traded, what Rojas achieved was nothing to scoff at. Over 60 games, he batted .282 with a .329 OBP and a .366 slugging percentage. While taking over shortstop for the injured Adeiny Hechavarria in September, Rojas also showed that he was more than capable in the field, only committing one error at the position in 240 2/3 innings.
In Rojas, the Marlins have a potentially solid bench player more than capable of making the Opening Roster, which the 27 year-old Venezuelan has never accomplished. Last season, Rojas played at shortstop, second base and third base, but he has seen time at first base as well this spring, which will appeal to new manager Don Mattingly and his enthusiasm for versatility. With the bat, Rojas currently leads the team with eight hits, which is one more (in nine Spring Training games) than Hechavarria accrued by the end of the entire spring schedule last year.
The Opening Day 2015 Marlins roster included five bench players. Now, if this were to happen again, which is plausible considering that Mattingly had six bench players on the Dodgers' Opening Day roster a year ago (facilitated by the fact that they started with four starting pitchers), then Rojas has a very good shot at making the cut if you take into consideration his stats from last year, and what he is currently doing during Spring Training.
When the Marlins pulled the trigger on the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers in December 2014, Rojas almost flew under the radar. But now, almost 18 months later, he could be about to significantly improve the bench of this Marlins team in another season where a few lucky bounces could land the Fish in the playoffs.
Miguel Rojas has the chance to become Miami's most versatile and successful bench player since Alfredo Amezaga, and that would sure help to finally remove the sour taste of losing Andrew Heaney in that trade from the mouths of Marlins supporters.