The Hot Stove season is starting to heat up in Major League Baseball, as some free agents and trades are beginning to happen.
Many think that there will be a flurry of moves before the December 1st deadline in which a new collective bargaining agreement needs to be met. New Dodger Andrew Heaney mentioned this in his decision to sign early with the team, so he could avoid that and get started on getting his pitching back on track sooner.
November 17th is looming ever so quickly, which is the deadline for players to accept or refuse qualifying offers. Chris Taylor refused the Dodgers’ offer, which this season was $18.4M, in favor of testing the free agency market. It doesn’t mean he won’t re-sign with the Dodgers, just that he’s looking for a longer term contract.
Quite a few teams are interested in CT3, and with good reason. His versatility and clutch hitting make him a desirable acquisition. Teams that maybe can’t afford a Trevor Story or Corey Seager at shortstop could look to Taylor to fill that hole at a reduced rate compared to what those two would command. The centerfield market is also particularly slim, and Taylor could be seen filling in that slot for a team also.
So what would it mean if the Dodgers are unable to re-sign the All-Star utility man? The Dodgers have all of their position players returning, with the caveat that if the Dodgers also don’t re-sign Seager, Trea Turner will slide over to his usual spot at short and Gavin Lux would presumably become the full time second baseman.
What will be slim is the players off the bench. Currently the Dodgers would just have Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty to fulfill that role. Rios plays first and third, and could spell Justin Turner there, especially if the National League adopts the designated hitter. Beaty plays first and some left field, but not too many other places around the diamond.
The Dodgers also have a smattering of outfielders off the bench, like Billy McKinney, Zach McKinstry and Luke Raley. McKinstry however finished his season in Triple-A Oklahoma City, and McKinney and Raley were not ever quite able to put it together and contribute down the end of the season.
If the Dodgers were not to re-sign CT3, they may have to look at the way their team is constructed. Their big MO the past few years is to have players of great versatility, and giving players plenty of rest during the season to keep them fresh for the playoffs. Taylor departing would leave a huge hole in that department. Taylor is special in that he was able to fill in for so many different spots on the field and the lineup didn’t miss much of a beat.
As constructed now, the team has a few options to spell the outfielders and corner positions, but not really any one to fill in at short and second to get T. Turner and Lux off their feet. Sheldon Neuse is the only one on the 40-man currently that has played at second, besides sliding Max Muncy over.
It’ll be interesting to watch the market for Taylor, and how the Dodgers respond if he were to sign elsewhere. We have may have an answer as to if he will return sooner than later.