The Diamondbacks will be without utilityman Josh Rojas for “weeks, not days,” manager Torey Lovullo told The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro and other reporters, as Rojas has suffered a Grade 2 oblique strain. It’s a rough setback for both Rojas and the team, as Rojas was projected to serve as the Diamondbacks’ starting third baseman.
One of four prospects acquired from the Astros in the 2019 Zack Greinke trade, Rojas was perhaps the least-heralded member of that quartet at the time of the deal, but has thus far had the biggest impact for the D’Backs at the big league level. The 27-year-old hit .264/.341/.411 with 11 home runs over 550 PA with Arizona last season, good for a 102 wRC+ and a 106 OPS+. Between this slightly above-average offense and Rojas’ ability to play all over the diamond, he was one of the few bright spots of an otherwise dismal season for the Snakes.
Rojas spent much of his time last season in right field and at both middle infield spots, also making 12 starts as a left fielder and seven starts at third base. Though it is probably safe to assume that Rojas will still get plenty of utility time in 2022, he had been slated for regular third base duty, as Arizona is lacking in depth at the hot corner.
Unfortunately, the D’Backs already now find themselves without their intended left side of the infield, between Rojas’ injury and Nick Ahmed’s ongoing shoulder problems. Ahmed is expected to start the season on the injured list, and while it seems like Rojas will have the longer absence of the two, the lingering nature of Ahmed’s sore shoulder has to be a concern.
Piecoro noted that Drew Ellis seems to be back in the Diamondbacks’ big league camp after previously being optioned to Triple-A, so Ellis looks to be in the mix for third base duty while Rojas is out. Ellis joins Sergio Alcantara and non-roster invites Wilmer Difo and Matt Davidson as candidates to fill in for Rojas. Josh VanMeter saw a good chunk of third base time for the D’Backs last season, but VanMeter was just traded to the Pirates on Thursday.