At the conclusion of the World Series over the next several days, the rumor mill the MLB calls its hot stove will kick into full gear and the baseball blogosphere will be publishing speculation galore.
The Los Angeles Dodgers will be a focal point of that speculation, as there’s a chance a large part of their roster will look significantly different by the start of 2022 spring training.
While we have all winter to discuss who might return to the team, I thought a good starting point would be Chris Taylor, as multiple positions on the field could be impacted by his departure.
Everyone knows what Taylor can do offensively, as his skills were on full display during the 2021 postseason. He slashed .351/.419/.784 with eight extra base hits and 12 RBI, many of them when his team needed it most.
The thing about Taylor is he’s about as streaky as offensive players come — like Enrique Hernandez or Joc Pederson streaky. Taylor’s 8-for-72 slump at the end of the regular season caused skipper Dave Roberts not to start him in the initial few games of this year’s playoffs.
Taylor finished the regular season by hitting .254/.344/.438 with 20 homers, one shy of the career high 21 longballs he tallied back in 2017. He was named to his first-career All-Star team, and his 3.2 WAR ranked sixth on a squad full of some of the game’s top sluggers. At the same time, we struck out a whopping 167 times, far and away the most on the Dodgers.
Most people don’t think of Taylor for his defensive prowess, even though he’s able to comfortably handle up to a half dozen positions on the field. However, he has one of the strongest arms on the team with a glove and range good enough to be an everyday middle infielder. In the final regular-season series against the Brewers, he made the highlight reel several times by tracking down several balls that initially appeared uncatchable.
The big question is, how much do the Dodgers want him back? I’ve never been too savvy at guessing contracts, but I’d surmise the 31-year-old Taylor could net upwards of a three-year, $40 million deal. He’s coming off a two-year, $13.4 million contract with the Dodgers in which he made $7.8 million last year.
In a perfect world, team boss Andrew Friedman might want to wait to see what happens with Corey Seager, although Taylor could be one of those players who gets plenty of offers early. Should both Seager and Taylor walk, that means the team would lean heavily on the abilities of Gavin Lux for the middle infield spots, who still hasn’t proven his offensive consistency. Plus, it would leave the Los Angeles outfield quite thin, with not much MLB-ready depth on the farm.
You wonder if a regular position and steady spot in the batting order could improve Taylor’s offensive numbers, but we know how much Friedman and Roberts value versatility. No doubt, the team wouldn’t be the same without him. Money will be a huge factor in his upcoming decision, although we have absolutely no idea where CT’s mindset is heading into his twilight years.
I guess we’ll soon find out.