As a versatile defender and a capable offensive player, Chris Taylor has been one of many eminently useful members of the Dodgers’ roster since 2017. But Taylor’s career did not begin in ideal fashion. A fifth-round pick of the Mariners in 2012, Taylor peaked as Baseball America’s ninth-ranked M’s prospect in 2014, and though he reached the majors for the first time that year, it took him a few years to come into his own.
Taylor showed off almost zero pop early in his big league career, evidenced by his one home run and .076 isolated power number across 318 plate appearances through 2016. Taylor had plenty of high moments in the Mariners’ minor league system, where he hit .314/.401/.455 in 1,856 PA, but could only muster a measly line of .240/296/.296 (71 wRC+) in the majors. Consequently, general manager Jerry Dipoto – who did not draft Taylor – gave him up in June 2016, sending him to the Dodgers for right-hander Zach Lee.
At the time of the Seattle-LA deal, MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk wrote, “Given Taylor’s impressive minor league numbers, it’s not out of the question that he could unlock some of that hitting prowess in the bigs.”
Mark couldn’t have been more right. Taylor saw little time with the Dodgers in his first year with the organization (just 62 PA), but he became a regular for the club the next season and has been an integral part of the perennial contenders’ roster since then. Going back to 2017, Taylor has slashed .268/.340/.468 (116 wRC+) with 50 homers and 9.6 fWAR, all while making relatively minimal salaries. Taylor’s still under affordable control through 2021, so as someone who can hit and play just about every position (he has lined up at second, third, short and all three outfield spots in LA), it should be a no-brainer for the Dodgers to keep him in the fold for at least the next couple years.
While the Dodgers struck gold on Taylor, the Mariners got nothing out of this swap. Lee entered the pro ranks as the 28th overall pick of the Dodgers in 2010, deciding to try for a baseball career instead of playing football at LSU. Signing the former quarterback cost the Dodgers a franchise-record bonus of $5.25MM, and Lee lived up to the hype for a little while. He was among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects three times (2011, ’12 and ’14), but Lee had an up-and-down minor league run as a Dodger and made just one appearance with the big club. In a 15-2 loss to the Mets in July 2015, Lee yielded seven earned runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. That was the only time he took the mound as a Dodger.
So what has become of Lee since the Mariners acquired him? Well, he had a fleeting run in the Seattle org, which lost him on waivers to San Diego in December 2016. Lee has since been with three other franchises – the Rays, Mets and Athletics (the A’s signed him to a minors pact this past offseason). He’s still just 28, and as a former high-end prospect, it may be too soon to give up on Lee. However, as the owner of a 5.41 ERA over 625 1/3 innings in Triple-A ball, it seems unlikely he’ll amount to much in the majors. Considering how Lee’s pro career has gone thus far, the Dodgers have to be thrilled with the return they got for him.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
With all this talk of pop, it should be mentioned that the real unlocking of the value of Taylor was in trying him in the outfield in 2017. This I believe would have been mainly a coaching decision. Somebody needed to see the potential and it converted him from a plus utility player into a super-utility player.
Lee has been a bust of course, but he was a first round draft pick so it wasn’t totally outlandish for the M’s to believe it was worth taking a chance on turning him around.
Between Taylor and Kike, there is excellent defense with slightly above average offense. The Dodgers’ do indeed have great depth, but it seems like these two have compromised a majority of that depth for the last few seasons.
You’re not wrong, but How many teams have two guys like Kike and Taylor completely off the bench?
Most teams are lucky to have one Guy who’s above average on both sides of the ball+can Maintain that value while lining up at 7 or more spots on the diamond..
Plus the true dodger depth is the starting lineup. So they can have 2 guys like Taylor and Kike to rotate completely off the bench. Few teams have multiple guys like that they don’t rely on hold down some starting spot daily.
To get a true picture of LA’s depth, you have to consider the above average starting 8+ multiple Swiss Army knife type guys+ a farm that rips out bats like nothing. That’s the depth. Saying it’s Kike and Taylor solely is insanely oversimplified
The Human Rain Delay
David Freese was probably one of the most underated players in baseball 18-19 as well
Always gets forgotten, was always there to produce whenever we needed him, doesnt get near the respect he deserves….hell he’s meant more than Kiki too us and has had just as many big time moments as Taylor as well
Some people may forget about him, but Dodgers fans don’t. He played very good when called upon
great that the mariners have gotten vertually nothing. and the dodgers may have been a perrenial contender but they also have stepped on banana peels repeatedly for all those years spending all that money!
Angels don’t have nearly the same amount of success the dodgers have had despite their own spending sprees.
Wasting prime years of Trout.
that’s true, too!
Why are the Angels even being brought up in conversation? This is talking about Dodgers and Mariners! Dodgers are better then Angels!
0 for 4!
Spending to compete was brought up. Pujols, Wilson, Hamilton, Upton
“but [the dodgers] also have stepped on banana peels repeatedly for all those years spending all that money”
Geographically speaking, Angels are closest team to the Dodgers and play in the same division as the Mariners.
That make things clearer Aaron?
wild bill tetley
Vertually nothing and perrenial contender….
My God you’d think they got Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas.
Yeah I don’t think this is really a “heist.”
Yeah, can we skip the National Enquirer click bait language please.
Didn’t you hear? Everything in “journalism” now-a-days needs to be hyperbole.
The guy that led the league in strike outs
A real heist …
The Adrian Beltre
He also had 600PAs of 113 wrc+(110 OPS+), coupled with good defense in multiple spots(well above average at SS and LF, 81 starts at SS) from a utility player, good for 3.1-3.9 WAR(FG-BR) in 2018, the year he led the NL in strikeouts.
Dude is trash. His first year or two he was legit, he has been trash the last two.
Excellent analysis, my aptly named friend. How embarrassing it must be to be you.
Less embarrassing than being you. It is great to see that you have more than one account. Do you spend the days liking your comments with each account?
Everyone needs to stop trolling right now (especially you, lowtalker) and fill up the comment section with some debate over player value and friendly banter rather than name-calling of other users and dissing of major league players (who regardless of what you may think are still way better than you at baseball). It doesn’t have to be two kids fighting over one ice cream cone. They can share. So I’m going to stop this argument right here before it gets ludicrously out of hand. Chill out, peoples.
Trash players don’t bat .257/.332/.451 with 29 home runs and 64 doubles in the past two seasons, having a 109 OPS+, and logging a significant amount of time at second base, shortstop, left field and centerfield and occasionally playing third base and right field, all of which he has shown to be a solid defender at. I get he strikes out a lot, but everyone would be willing to sacrifice that for 30 doubels, 15 home runs, and good defense at basically any position you put him at.
Ya. He hasnt been spectacular or anything but hes been a very valuable player. The strikeouts are a problem for sure but the benefits of his play far outweigh his K issue
Congrats, you confirmed you have an extremely limited perspective on baseball Player value
Good thing we all know more than you
You’re going to have to speak up!
Yeah it was no heist. Lee has all kinds of promise, but the Dodgers realization Lee wasn’t what they hopped, and tried to get someone for him. Seattle thought Lee would pay dividends way before Taylor, so the trade was made. Neither team dreamed things would work out the way it did.
If Chris Taylor was a heist, the Dodgers had Fort Knox taken from them in the Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields trade.
No doubt that Taylor was worth more than Lee. However, a large portion of his overall production with the Dodgers was in his career year he had in 2017. He’s a solid utility player but not much more at this point.
You want to talk heist? The all time bone head Mariner trade was when Bill Bavasi dealt Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, & George Sherril for Eric Bedard. Tillman and Sherril each made an A.L. all-star team. And Adam Jones is on the verge of 2000 hits and 300 homeruns to go along with his all-star appearances and gold gloves. Oriole fans probably still marvel at this heist, laugh, and toast each other.. The trade of Derek Lowe & Jason Veritek for Heathcliff Slocumb ranks right up there too. Lowe went on to win 176 games and Veritek had a great career. Woody Woodward is to blame for that one.
Taylor is a nice player, but has a lifetime OPS+ of 107. Who doesn’t have a player that didn’t cost anything that is as good as Chris Taylor?
Yeah, how did THAT Happen, Fred Clare, you mutt? Pedro, a no-brainer Hall of Famer!
The Ks kill… still trying to forget the one against Scherzer in Gm 4 w/ the bases loaded.
All the Dodgers received in the trade for Chris Taylor is a strikeout king & in fact Chris Taylor has struck out 448 times in 453 games in a Dodger uniform & in fact Chris Taylor led the NL in strikeouts in 2018 & if he didn’t miss a lot of time in 2019 he would have been at the top of the list for that season.
The only way Chris Taylor should be allowed to hit is if the game is a blowout or it’s an emergency Taylor should be used as a defensive replacement only
Spoken like a true Yankees fan.
Why would you want to not use a guy who has a .300/.361/.483 line in high leverage situations and a .270/.356/.442 line with RISP in blowout games only?
Some of you are really blowing his strikeout rate out of proportion. Yes, he strikes out a lot. But that doesn’t mean he has no positive value. In the past two seasons, he has a 111 wRC+ while playing at least 150 innings at second base, shortstop, center field, and left field. Not to mention he has done fairly well at each of those positions. He is the only player with a wRC+ of at least 110 and to have 150+ innings logged at 4 different positions and have at least 1000 plate appearances. Nobody is denying he strikes out a lot. He has the second highest strikeout rate in the past two seasons. But to act like that completley negates the fact he can play defense at 4 different positions, and be a 10% better than average batter is very valuable.
The Dodgers need to rebrand to appeal to all the illegal aliens and their anchor babies — “Border Dodgers.” You know that’s the fastest growing percentage of their fan base. It’s a fact to anyone paying attention. Sorry if that hurts your feelings.