Dodgers top prospect Gavin Lux won’t begin season on roster

The Dodgers optioned top prospect Gavin Lux on Tuesday, two days before opening their season against the San Francisco Giants, ensuring he won’t be on the club’s 30-man opening day roster.

The move was surprising but not terribly so. Lux is widely regarded as one of the five best prospects in baseball. He demolished double-A and triple-A pitching last season before making his major league debut in September. He was Baseball America’s 2019 minor league player of the year.

But the Dodgers didn’t plan on putting the 22-year-old Lux on their opening day roster out of spring training before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the Major League Baseball season. Four months later, his case to make the club when the team convened for training camp was hurt because he reported a week late for undisclosed reasons. Lux declined to share why he arrived late.

Lux was competing for time at second base. This week, manager Dave Roberts said Lux was still searching for a rhythm at the plate. Roberts added the second base job remained “open” and he expected players to split time at the position. Max Muncy, Kiké Hernández and Chris Taylor are expected to share the role.

But there’s another factor in the organization’s calculation: The Dodgers can leave Lux off the active roster just long enough to limit his service time and gain an extra year of contractual control. The Dodgers could wait until early August to recall Lux and push his free agency back a year.

The Dodgers also signed left-hander Jake McGee to a one-year contract and moved right-hander Jimmy Nelson to make room on the 40-man roster.

McGee, 32, posted a 4.35 earned-run average with the Colorado Rockies last season. He held left-handed hitters to a .235 batting average and .693 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 75 plate appearances. The Rockies released McGee on Friday even though he is under contract for $9.5 million this season. His prorated salary will be $3.515 million.

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