Dodgers 2018 Roster: Will Chris Taylor Improve Upon a Stellar 2017?

-L-DODGERS
(Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

It was the season that no fan of the Dodgers could have predicted, but Chris Taylor was arguably one of the MVPs of the 2017 squad. So what lies ahead for him in 2018?

In 2016, with his time split between the Seattle Mariners, who drafted him in 2012, and the Dodgers who received him in a trade for pitcher Zach Lee, Taylor hit only .213 with one home run, two doubles and two triples. In the offseason and through spring training, he decided to change his swing, adding a leg kick, adding bat speed and overall changing his bat’s path.

Although he started the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City, all that hard work through the winter and spring paid off. So much so that when the Dodgers lost their original leadoff hitter Andrew Toles to an ACL injury, Taylor took over that role and never let it go. He finished the season with a .288/.354/.496/.850 slash line, 21 homers, 34 doubles, and five triples. In the playoffs, he hit three home runs, including the first pitch he saw in the World Series off Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros. He also had four doubles, a triple, and walked eleven times during the 2017 postseason. CT3 was also named Co-MVP of the NLCS along with third baseman Justin Turner.

Taylor, an infielder by trade, spent the time in Triple-A working on becoming an outfielder. Little did he know that he would spend most of the season in the outfield, starting in left, and then taking over full time in center when Joc Pederson was sent down to the minors to work on his own batting skills. He saw just over 800 innings in the outfield and committed only two errors. Not too bad for someone who had not really played there before the season started.

So with all this versatility, what lies ahead for Taylor in 2018? I suppose a lot depends on what other players on the Dodgers end up doing. Will Pederson improve his batting enough to retake centerfield? Left field seems like it will see a platoon between Kiké Hernandez and Andrew Toles, provided he comes back all the way from his ACL injury. Yasiel Puig will most certainly be patrolling right.

What about a move back to the infield? Justin Turner and Corey Seager will be at third and shortstop, respectively. The Dodgers just picked up the option on second baseman Logan Forsythe‘s contract. Cody Bellinger will most likely be the full time first baseman, and if he isn’t, if Adrian Gonzalez has one more good year left in him, will be another outfielder to add to the mix.

Center field, with some filling in at other spots as needed, seems to me to be the most likely position for Taylor next season. His bat has become too reliable to make him simply a platoon player, and a batting order works best when the 1-4 slots are always the same. This might deem Pederson a trade candidate, perhaps for a starting pitcher. I think it is a long shot, and a worst case scenario for Dodger fans, but Taylor himself could be deemed a trade candidate, a buy low, sell high deal for the Dodgers. Plenty of teams would want a player who can play so many positions on the field so well, and also handle the bat.

There’s a lot of offseason and spring training to go before the outfield situation sorts itself out for the Dodgers. Where do you think Taylor for the 2018 season?

(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERSANDYINPA)

 

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16 thoughts on “Dodgers 2018 Roster: Will Chris Taylor Improve Upon a Stellar 2017?

  1. I think we need a right handed hitting outfielder who can also hit righty pitching (so Kike doesn’t qualify) and could play every day. I wouldn’t mind seeing us sign Lorenzo Cain and using him to lead off. Then move CT3 to second base and have him hit 2nd with Seager 3rd followed by JT and Cody. Trade Joc, Baez and a decent but not top 10 prospect for a really good young relief pitcher (Iglesias or Rivero). Platoon Kike and Toles in left, as you mentioned, with Puig in right and Barnes catching and we have a nice lineup. Re-sign Morrow and we have a great bullpen trio in Kenley, Morrow and Iglesias/Rivero.

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    1. I would trade Forsythe since we would only have him for another year anyway. I think he would bring back something worthwhile although certainly nothing spectacular.

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  2. Not trying to rain on your parade Jeff , but we would have to give up our 2nd, and 5th picks, and a million dollars of our international signing pool. So far this front office has not signed any compensation pick free agents. I sure liked the Iglesias and morrow parts of your deal though.

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    1. Friedman has already stated that a healthy Adrian Gonzalez will play “everyday” at first base. That puts Cody in a position to patrol CF and LF. With Bellinger pretty much part-time at 1B and full-time in the OF, there’s no way both Tolesy and Joc are on the 25-man. I don’t have much to back it up right now, but I think there will be more than one trade happening this winter.

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      1. A healthy Gonzo might play everyday, but how long will he be healthy? I’m guessing his back issues are serious enough that he won’t play very many games. If he’s truly healthy, he would certainly be worth keeping in the lineup and moving Cody to the outfield. I’m inclined to agree that for a team with “very few holes” we may be surprised at how much activity the Dodger front office takes part in this winter.

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    2. Totally forgot about the compensation Keith. Thanks for pointing that out. Even if I would do it, I’m guessing there is no way that Andrew would and I’m thinking there is probably another right handed hitting outfielder out there we could possibly trade for, although no one comes immediately to mind. I do think we need someone that fits that description however.

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      1. I think I would weigh a left-handed hitter who could play 2B as a higher priority than a right-handed hitting OF. If that’s indeed the case, I think we see Taylor stay in the OF. With CT3 and Yasiel having the potential to combine for 50 HR, I think that’s plenty of power. If they’re gonna move somebody, I think it’s gonna be Joc, with his value as about as high as it’s gonna get.

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      2. Anyone come to mind with regard to the left-handed hitting second baseman? Are you assuming a platoon with Forsythe? Do you happen to know roughly what the breakdown is righty vs lefty starters against us in an average year? Seems that Forsythe wouldn’t get a huge amount of playing time in that scenario so if it plays out that way I would much prefer to trade him. What do you think of Cesar Hernandez, who happens to be a switch hitter?

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      3. I’m not saying that Forsythe would sit against RHP, I just think if you’re gonna have a designated backup to Forsythe, it may as well be a left-handed hitter. Better yet, a left-handed hitter who can play multiple infield spots. I don’t see Phila letting Hernandez go cheaply. This would have been a great spot to try and get Calhoun’s feet wet.

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  3. We all thought the Darvish deal looked pretty good during the Cubs series. Forsyth is in his walk year, so I’m hoping for a better year from him. I thought he looked good during the play offs. Sometimes it takes guys a season to adjust to a change of leagues.

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  4. If they traded joc what could they get for him? Is his potential still worth something? I agree I think something will happen this off season, but I bet it will catch us all by surprise.

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    1. I think Joc certainly helped re-establish some value for himself in the playoffs this year but by himself I still don’t see him bringing back anything too exciting in a trade. At least some team might be willing to take him as part of a package now where they might have passed before. That said, he could be just a step away from finding himself and turning into a really good player. I’m not sure the Dodgers have the time and/or patience to find out, but some non-contender might be very wise to get him and give him the time he needs. That’s why I’m hoping the Reds or Pirates would accept him as part of a package for Iglesias or Rivero. Needless to say it would take a lot more than just Joc.

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