Since the Dodgers were sold to the Guggenheim group, after wasting away for many years under Frank McCourt, Andrew Friedman and company have made a habit of finding diamonds in the rough.
Some of their reclamation projects have not panned out, like Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy. Pitchers are always trickier than position players, however. The Dodgers have been hesitant to trade away prospects and have always made prudent decisions. One where the Dodgers especially did well was their trade then No. 1 prospect Zach Lee for one Chris Taylor. We all know how that trade ended up working out.
Taylor was the first in a line of some gems, including Max Muncy. Along with Enrique Hernandez, CT3 became a super-utility player, capable of playing second, third, shortstop, and the corner outfield spots. Who can forget his leadoff homer of Game 1 of the 2017 World Series or his incredible catch in Milwaukee in the 2018 NLCS?
The versatile righty hitter played in 124 games last season, his least in a full season after joining the Dodgers. He was more than solid filling in for Corey Seager‘s injury until he was felled by his own ailment. Taylor was hit by a pitch in Boston and was out a little over a month recovering. He did not hit as well after he returned.
Taylor is also dealing with some issues to start spring training. He incurred some forearm and wrist tightness during a check swing in Sunday’s game. He returned to the Dodgers lineup Thursday, where he walked, singled, and scored on a wild pitch.
CT3’s spot is pretty much secure this season, especially with there being 26 men on a major league active roster now. Along with Kiké, he will fill in around the diamond giving whomever needs a little break some time off. Additionally, he’ll collect plenty of AB against southpaw pitching. In the offseason, Taylor agreed to a new two-year extension worth $13.5 million.
It seems a little crazy to think, but Taylor and Kiké almost seem to be forgotten players on this team. It’s true that they are not the stars, but I’d say they may even be more valuable. It can not be understated the impact of having a more than capable stand-in ready and able to step right in seamlessly with little to no impact to the rest of the team and the lineup.
What will be interesting to watch as the season goes on is if there will be an emergence of any new up-and-coming prospects. Manager Dave Roberts has said that we will most likely see Zack McKinstry with the big club some time this season. The 24 year old spent last season split between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City where he hit .382 in 26 with seven homers and eight doubles. He has one triple so far this spring and is turning heads.
Also in big league camp is Luke Raley, who was drafted by the Dodgers, traded to Minnesota, and then was traded back in the Kenta Maeda deal. Along with Matt Beaty and Edwin Rios, who all aren’t quite as versatile as Taylor and Hernandez, they certainly give the Dodgers depth at the replacement level that others teams can only dream of.
Having excellent depth is not only a huge asset, but also the goal. To be able to give their starters rest and not put a toll on their bodies as often as the season wears on is huge and can only reap benefits in October.