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I’ve said in the past that Miguel Rojas is the heart and soul of the Miami Marlins.
Miguel Rojas has always been a solid defensive asset everywhere on the diamond, providing at least average defense at all four positions. The Marlins doubled down on him as their starting shortstop in 2019, and were rewarded with the second best WAR from amongst Miami’s position players – a mark of 2.4.
For those of you who don’t pore over every little nook and cranny of the Miami Marlins statistics day-in, day-out, year-by-year, or player-by-player, it may surprise you to know that Rojas stands alone not just in terms of longevity on the parent club, but also in terms of production. He’s topped the 2.0 WAR benchmark for three consecutive seasons now, and looks poised to take another step in his age-31 season.
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The Marlins saw fit to reward Rojas with a two-season, $10.25 million deal near the end of the 2019 campaign. The contract includes an incentives-based option for a third season, as quoted by the Associated Press in USA Today:
Miami has a $5.5 million team option for 2022 with a $500,000 buyout. The option would become guaranteed if he has 500 or more plate appearances in 2021 and it is determined he will be healthy for spring training in 2022.
Rojas is a better-than-even bet to reach that benchmark with the club. In today’s age of hangnail injured list cowboys, Rojas has only visited the IL twice in his five seasons with the Marlins. He’s topped 500 plate appearances in each of his last two seasons, while discovering a modest power stroke in the balance. After a homer in each of his first four major league seasons, he’s clubbed 16 in the past two years.
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We know that Rojas will never hit 20 homers or steal 20 bases, but you can count on him to hold down the shortstop position defensively in perpetuity. Last season, he was worth 12 defensive runs above average in 1060 2/3 innings at the spot. You can also count on him to hover around .280 while striking out about 12 percent of the time. Never underestimate the power of contact.
Rojas has a career .263/.314/.348 line, but pushed that up to .284/.331/.379 last season. Baseball reference projects him to regress slightly next season, but I’m going to take the over on this gritty Venezuelan to play himself even further into our hearts. Jazz Chisholm waits in the wings, along with Bryson Brigman, Demetrius Sims, Jose Devers, Dalvy Rosario, Nasim Nunez, and Osiris Johnson, but we all know that Rojas can play anywhere. This is a guy who will always land on his feet, and Rojas is the obvious choice for team captain, if the Marlins are inclined to name someone.