Early Thoughts on Chris Taylor and Free Agency

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.

58 thoughts on “Early Thoughts on Chris Taylor and Free Agency

  1. Taylor is a full-time player that plays all over the field and is very good defensively everywhere. He should get a long-term high $ offer. The question is do the Dodgers get any hometown discount and do they want to sign him? If the money is close I think he stays as it’s always easier to stay than move the family and stay with a team you are comfortable with. Joc would have stayed if the Dodgers had offered.
    Do the Dodgers re-sign Seager? I think they will either sign Seager or Taylor, not both. No matter what Seager said about staying I think he leaves for the East Coast. Dodgers could use another player that makes a high % of contact and gets on base. The Offense stalled as they could not finish with RISP or generate runs.
    3 things that will determine how soon deals are made: Bauer situation resolution, Players Union contract signed/resolved, and Seager signing with Dodgers or with some other team. I do not expect much to happen until the Labor Contract is resolved. Team’s need to know where they are in relation to the Team Salary Ceiling and if there is a DH and added roster spots.

    1. I agree not much will happen until a new CBA is ironed out and on that issue I think it’s going to be a long, cold winter.

    2. Again T, there is NO CEILING. There is an amount where penalty’s come into play if the team goes over that figure. LA was way over the CBT this year. They do not seem to worry as much about that as the fans do. They also have a huge amount coming off of the books if they choose not to pursue guys like Kersh and Jansen. The elephant in the room is Bauer and his guaranteed deal. If he is indeed suspended with out pay, they can pull that amount off of their ledger and make some moves. 3rd year of Bauer’s deal is not guaranteed. They have a buy out.

      1. Bear you should shill for the owners! If you say do not spend over 250 million and if you do we will penalize you geometrically higher every year and eventually take away draft picks you may not want to call it a ceiling but it is for all intent and purpose. Plus to make it worse the money was supposed to go to smaller market teams to be more competitive but most of the team owners took the money and called it profit! That will be the main fight about the CBT and a team minimum.

      2. There is no celiling. There is a level they are not supposed to pass with the CBT, but they have ignored it lately. MLBPA is not going to allow a salary cap.

    3. Less roster spots are needed if there is a DH. For instance if Seager would sign and play 3B, JT would DH. Not as much need to PH with our lineup although you might see a double switch occasionally.

      1. The union will negotiate that the DH is adding a player to the line-up. Or that is the way I would argue it. The owners desperately want to enlarge the playoff structure and the players will use additional roster spots and huge changes or the elimination of the CBT to let them do that. That is why there will be a long bitter strike…. The players feel the owners won the last contract with the CBT the way it was written. It will not happen again. The players will strike and hold out.

      2. Roster will be 26 again, although there has been some push for 28. The DH is going to be part of the new CBA. There will be some other new rules. I do not know how you figure less roster spots are needed. You need the same. They will probably carry less position players. Maybe 12 and 14 pitchers. That is what they did in the shortened season last year. But you are still going to see lots of players on the IL and the AAA shuttle.

      3. To clarify, I didn’t mean less than the current 26. I should have said no increase needed because of DH.

      4. So true, yet there has been argument about making the roster 28 players. Or another option is a taxi squad of 5 that travels with the team like the NBA has. They can designate which players are active and which are not. For injuries not requiring an IL stint, this is the perfect solution. Like when Turner missed 4 games with a tight hammy.

      5. I suspect the Dodgers would mainly park extra pitchers on a taxi squad and activate them the way the use the minor league options now.

      6. The CBT is NOT going away. It is part of the tool for getting the lower shelf teams their money for not being able to compete monetarily. There are other things on the table that the MLBPA is not going to negotiate, like the proposal that they drop the top end of the CBT almost 20 million which was one of the first thing MLB proposed.

      7. I agree it is the fiction that the MLB uses for competition. But is it effective? I think the teams that get in the playoffs have very good organizations run by solid management. Teams that have ego-driven owners that sign players to ridiculous deals the Angels Moreno is a shining example in the past… St Louis has always had good management and a competitive team. Look at the teams in the playoffs. Atlanta has a lot of money as does SF, LA, Boston, and Houston. If the CBT is supposed to level the playing field it has failed. The Players are not going to allow a stricter CBT. Watch how this plays out the players are angry.

  2. Taylor is not a starter. Not in my book anyway. One of the reasons he faded so badly at the end was the fact that he was playing pretty much everyday. He is better suited as a super sub. I think any team that signs him long term to play a single position is making a huge mistake not utilizing his versatility. He also strikes out WAY TO OFTEN. For a player of his ability his all or nothing swings come with a cost. Yeah, he had one really great game in the playoffs. And he hit the winner in the wild card game. Everyone loves Chris and what he has done while he has been in the organization. But his huge uppercut swing has large holes. Especially when pitches are down in the zone. I think I saw Dodger hitters chase more bad balls down in the zone than in any other year you can name. And they would let pitches right down Broadway go by. Taylor is leaving. I do not think there is a snowball’s chance in hell the Dodgers are going to pay the kind of money for a player they consider a sub that other teams are going to offer. All of the speculation is moot by the way until we find out if there even is going to be a next year. I think both sides need to put their egos in check and get an agreement for the love of the game. I believe the Dodgers have a better chance of retaining Seager than they do Taylor. Both players will be offered the QO though. Free agency this season for LA is a veritable land mine.

    1. No way they over Taylor the QO! Is it still $18.9M? I agree with most of the rest you said.
      Taylor should be paid more than a normal bench sub as he is a great 4th OF and provides insurance against IF injuries as well.

      1. 18.6..and he will get offered the QO simply because they will get a draft pick if he signs somewhere else..baseball 101

      2. None of what you are referring to will be in place after December. All the penalties must be renegotiated with the union. The losing of draft choices was one of the problems for some free agents I am not convinced it will be back. The draft choice penalty will be one of the big negotiation points along with the CBT numbers maximum and a new minimum. I imagine the Union will expand the CBT number even if they are given a minimum. That is why I believe there will be a bitter strike. IMHO the owners gave in to the smaller teams and penalized the big market teams.

    2. Bear we get to almost disagree but it’s semantics if a player is in the lineup every day and gets over 500 at-bats what is he if not a starter? I posit he is more valuable than a starter as he plays almost every position well and gives a manager more options and adds more value to a roster. So not a starter but plays more than some “starters” . Toe MAY toe….tomato or if it walks like a duck ….
      I agree this team swung at more bad balls and chased balls more than any Dodger team in recent memory. Taylor and Lux both took some incredible balls right down broadway.

      1. He is not a starter. The only reason he got that many at bats was because of the injuries. Same thing in 18, he was the primary SS after Seager went down until they got Machado. He is a super sub. Most games he would be on the bench unless giving players a blow. Taylor as a super sub strikes out way too many times.

  3. He’s absolutely a starter. He faded because he literally had no days off filling in for half our lineup that was dead throughout the year and then had his own neck injury he was dealing with. He was a beast in our short season and carried the dodgers this year in both regular and postseason. I think he takes an AJ Pollock type contract and nothing less from the dodgers. 4 years/55, option for 5. Anything less is slap in the face and he’ll probably walk.

    1. He has never been and never will be listed as an everyday player for the Dodgers. He is Kike with more upside. The ONLY REASON he played so much was because of the injuries. Had Seager, Bellinger, Betts Pollock and others made it through the entire year with out injuries, he would have had a lot less at bats. That is fact not fiction. Bellinger missed 67 games, Seager 2 months, Betts missed 40 games. Not to mention the other injuries that put players on the shelf. Taylor played 6 different positions. Mostly in CF where he would not have played had Bellinger been healthy.

      1. Since 2017 Taylor has had 568, 604, 414, 214, and 582 plate appearances. Playing almost every game was not a 1-year anomaly. He has been basically a full-time player every year since 2017!

      2. Mostly playing because some one else is injured or needs a day off. And his K rate shows it. 142, 178, 115, 55, 167, 341 games in the OF, 258 at SS, 124 at 2nd, and 36 at 3rd. If he was a starter, he would not be moved around that much. He would have a regular position. And like I said, he never would have played that much if players had not been injured. KIke started the 2017 season as the starter at second and look where he ended up. Taylor despite playing all those games has NEVER BEEN considered a starter. He is the teams super sub. PERIOD.

  4. Both sides put their egos in check? What’s the likelihood that will happen. I believe they will come to a deal but it will take several weeks of the winter to do it.

    Bauer. It’s anybody’s guess. My guess is he won’t be charged. But, that is just a guess. It’s been months, the investigations are over, if he were a menace to society they’d get him off the streets, right? What he is for sure is a tax paying millionaire resident of Pasadena being accused by a woman who is a card carrying Padre fan who likes it rough and has “dated” at least one Padre. Or is it two? Anyway, I think her cred is weak. We should know soon.

    1. I think Bauer’s destiny plays a big role in how much the Dodgers spend, probably more so than the CBA. I agree that he won’t be charged, but if the MLB decides to suspend him for a season, that’s a ton of money off the Dodgers’ books. It might sound crazy, but I get the feeling the Dodgers could even release him if the MLB feels there should be no punishment for conduct. I believe Bauer is due $34 million next year — that might be enough to get you Scherzer for a season. Or both Kershaw and Knebel if you want to go bargain shopping.

    2. Scoop that is why I think it blows over and Bauer pitches next year and probably for the Dodgers. The investigation has gone on so long if he isn’t charged he will be able to use the time served as his suspension. As I said before he will be contrite, Find Religion and donate to a Women’s shelter charity and YES people are that gullible and it will be yesterday’s news.

  5. I agree it would be great to sign CT3 again. I’m not sure he will get big offers to be a full time player at age 31. His biggest value is as a super utility guy able to play 6 positions and provide solid offense and speed on the bases. I agree with $40 for 3 or $50 for 4. Something like that. But if LA spends to bring back Seager (I hope so), Kershaw (shouted less than last contract) and Scherzer (hope the arm fatigue is not a sign of age) than I could see them going cheaper for the bench. Oh, and I’d like to see Jansen back too.

  6. T, since we are never going to agree about Taylor, I simply will ask this question. At which position was Chris Taylor considered the starter at the beginning of the season. The answer: none. The lineup was supposed to look like this, LF, Pollock, CF, Bellinger, RF, Betts, 3B, Turner, SS, Seager, 2B, Lux, 1B, Muncy. Those were the starters. The subs were Barnes, McKinstry, Taylor and Beatty. Smith was the starting catcher. Bellinger was injured 4 games into the season and that is when Taylor started to see regular action.

    1. I agree. And he has been the best player on the bench so he basically gets the start the vast majority of the time when their is the need to rest someone, or due to injury or the desire for another RH bat against a LH pitcher. There always seems to be injuries so if CT3 resigns he will probably still get at least 400 at bats. Super Sub indeed. Would like to see him cut that K rate down.

      1. Bear, You are so rigid in your thinking about anything that doesn’t fit in your neat little boxes! You say a starter is someone that plays a position. I say you need to change your definition! If a player plays almost every day he is by any reasonable definition a starter! It is only your outmoded thought process that says well if he isn’t a second baseman, outfielder, etc he isn’t a starter! That is ridiculous as he has played in as many games as any player since 2017! It’s like the Bellinger disagreement you kept saying he is hurt but as soon as he pulled his head out of his tail and started to attempt to make contact and go with the pitch he starts hitting. Wow! how about that its a miracle!! He is cured. Yep, he is cured from being an arrogant kid stuck on the fact he was an MVP and didn’t have to adapt to how the pitchers had changed their approach to get him out. Good Night…

  7. Maybe, but the definition of a starter is a player who the team EXPECTS to play that position on a daily basis. By that standard he does not qualify as a starter. You believe what you believe and quit trying to change my mind and my argument that at no time have the Dodgers ever considered him as anything but a super sub period. And as far as Bellinger goes, you are the one with your head in the sand. His swing and power were both affected by his surgery, he missed more than half of spring training and was injured 4 days into the season. He played only 3 games in May, then he has to get his timing and his swing back in real time games. SO your theory is bull. How in the hell do you know he was arrogant? You are not a dugout insider. You like me are merely a fan looking in from a distance. Not one of his coaches or the manager ever said anything about him having a problem taking coaching. He made adjustments late in the year that finally got results. But he was trying new things all year. The main thing was cutting down on that huge swing of his. As for Taylor, he is going to get a very big deal from somebody not called the Dodgers. He is going to get a deal along the lines of the one Zobrist got. And he is younger than Zobrist was when he signed his deal. At 34, Zobrist got a 4 year 54 million dollar deal from the Cubs, and he and Taylor are mirror type players/ One huge exception, Zobrist did not strike out nearly anything close to how much Taylor does. My rigid stance on Taylor comes from the fact that in no time during his entire time on the team has he been considered the starter at any position on the field. He has never in any season with the Dodgers started more than 61 games at the same position, and that was this year in CF. He has never played more than 96 games in one year in the outfield. Starters usually play more than 100 games at their prime position. So sorry, he does not meet the qualifications of a starting player. He plays where he is needed when needed. He is a sub.

  8. It is not a neat little box, it is a fact of life there T. I am rigid about it because it is a fact. Kike got his first taste of being a starter this year in Boston, Joc got some time doing that in Chicago before he was traded, but neither, except Joc in his first two seasons, was considered a starter and they played a lot of innings. Both were platoon players. Kike was a super sub just like Taylor. The only one arguing for him is you. Most understand the guy has more value off of the bench period.

  9. Bellinger made up for his bad season in the playoffs. He went 12-34 with a HR and 7 ribbies. He had the game winning hit in game 5 of the series with the Giants and a huge game tying 3 run homer in game 3 with the Braves. Seager, Turner, JT, and most of the rest of the team were awful. Betts all but disappeared in the NLCS. Seager had 2 homers, but not much else. He hit .167 for the series. All of Turner’s hits were singles. Pollock and Taylor did most of their damage in the game 5 win. Other than that the whole team’s offense stunk up the joint. But I will tell you what, you show me one publication or story posted on any baseball site pertaining to the Dodgers that lists Taylor as anything other than the #4 outfielder and I will soften my position and say yeah, he is a starter. You won’t find one. Even on the Dodger depth chart.

    1. Yep, even if Seager goes and Taylor stays he is Mr. super sub. Trea moves to SS and Lux to 2B. CT3 is still 4Th OF and IF backup.

    2. Sounds to me you are getting hung up on semantics. Chris Taylor is in every day player who put up over 3 WAR. And he’s done it more than once. I don’t think he gives a rat’s ass whether starter is in the conversation, he’s and everyday player that deserves to paid as one.

      That said I just noticed Steamer already projects him less than what he did for next year – around 2 WAR, wRC of 74. OPS of .739. Maybe it’s turning 32 next year. If the Dodgers have similar projections…… enter Phillies.

      1. The projection probably takes into account a healthy roster and less opportunities as well as age.

      2. Done arguing. You guys have your definition of a starter and I have mine. BY DEFINITION< HE IS NOT A STARTING PLAYER PERIKD<<<I AM DONA

  10. Not to add fuel to the fire but the NBA has a special award for the 6th man, first guy off the bench, not a starter but a player that often plays as much or more than a starter.
    You are both kind of right. Taylor typically is considered a bench guy, super sub or utility player, not a starter when the season starts, when depth charts are constructed.
    But he ends up in the starting lineup a lot for the various reasons outlined.
    I don’t consider him a future starter because much of his value is due to his abilities at so many different positions as well as his age of 31. I believe he deserves a good contract but it will not be “starter” $$$.

  11. Semantics. He has not ever been considered a starter. He plays a lot. But on the depth chart, he is not a starter and that is all there is to that. The ONLY reason he starts is either because of injury or to give a player a blow, End of argument.

    1. End of argument?

      Pump the brakes there Bear. He’s a utility player, everyone agrees with that. He’s also an every day player that will likely be paid as one. 4 years $40 million neighborhood is what I see him being offered by somebody.

      1. Tired of arguing. He plays almost every day. That I concede. But by definition, he is not a STARTER and that is my argument. He is not # 1 at any position on the depth chart. That is the definition of a starting player. I care less how many reps he gets. The more he plays, the less productive he gets at some point. He is a very streaky hitter and goes into a funk like he was in the last couple of weeks often. Do not get me wrong, he is a valuable piece of the team, but I think your contract estimate is low. I see him getting close to Zobrist money and it won’t be from LA. He still strikes out too damn much.

      2. Zobrist? Really? 4 and $56m?

        Tell me, do you think Chris Taylor is as good as Zobrist?

        Taylor has had some clutch hits, no doubt about it. But so did Hernandez and Pederson and we let both them go. Neither got near Zobrist money.

        I’d like to see Taylor back. But I don’t see AF going that high.

  12. I think Taylor is better at more positions, he is also 5 years younger than Zobrist was when he got that contract. Zobrist had two good years on that deal, but was no where near as good as he was before. He hit 20 or more HR’s 3 times, Taylor has done it twice. The one thing Zobrist did better was make consistent contact.

    1. Ok. Well, I see it differently. Zobrist is, in my opinion, the better player. He’s played every position on the field except P and C, his batting average is better, his OBP is better and his OPS is better. He put up some monster years before he was 30, certainly better than Taylor has done, and has been productive to 38. Can Taylor do that? I think since Zobrist is so unique, I doubt it. But, I’ve been wrong before. 4 years, $45 million.

      1. Taylor is younger, and can give them 5 solid seasons as long as he is healthy. Zobrist was 35 the first season of his deal with the Cubs. Taylor’s relative youth compared to Ben, and his versatility will land him a deal close to what Zobrist got. 4/45 would be close.

    2. Plus Zobrist was a switch hitter and better defensively at least at 2B and SS. But I too hope Taylor stays with Dodgers. Something like 3 years for $30-$36m.

      1. I doubt that happens. Especially if the decided to chase down Seager and resign him. As far as being better defensively at SS and 2B, they are very close. Taylor’s fielding pct at SS is .003 behind Zobrist. 2nd base Zobrist has a clear edge. .987 to .863, but he played over 700 games at the position. Taylor’s worse position is 3rd. But he is a very good defensive outfielder. Zobrist was pretty decent out there too. But, you take into consideration the age difference. Cubs got 2 years good production out of his 4 year deal because he was 35 when he signed. Taylor will be 31 next season. He also has better post season numbers in almost the same number of series as Zobrist. Except for the switch hitting and K’s, they are almost mirror players. Somebody, not the Dodgers, is going to give him a big payday.

  13. I would like to apologize to T. I got a little testy with him, but it has not been a good week. I lost another friend to cancer yesterday, and found out another friend has passed.

    1. Sorry for your loss. My condolences . I live in an over 55 community and we are constantly dealing with someone dealing with health issues It’s never easy.

      1. Thanks Gary, I appreciate it. This lady was part of what I consider my musical family. A group of us who get together occasionally and jam just for the fun of it. She was young and barely lasted 2 months after the diagnosis.

    2. No need to apologize to me, my friend. I may get under your skin a bit but I look at it as all for fun and debate.
      As we survive into our later years we are all losing friends and family and so we all understand the feeling of loss.

      1. Thanks T, but I got a little too testy. Losing my friend Bonnie was expected. He was not in good health and was 80. But Bobbie, wife of our keyboard players brother, was a young woman in her late 40’s and she was gone within 2 months of being diagnosed. That was not expected.

  14. Glad that Joc has another ring and the Asterisks were beaten! It would have pissed me off all winter if Houston had won.
    What a blast by Soler! WOW!

  15. Bear truly my condolences. I don’t mind anyone being a bit testy! We are fans! Short for fanatics! We are passionate about the Dodgers and baseball. That is a great thing. Rejoice in it.

Leave a Reply