Super utility player Chris Taylor is drawing interest from various teams and could sign in the coming days, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (Twitter links). He lists the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Mariners, Angels and Nationals as teams that have been in recent contact with Taylor’s camp. The current CBA expires at 11:59pm ET on Wednesday, December 1, leading to a frenzy of transactions in recent days as teams are trying to tick items of their to-do lists before the lockout and transaction freeze that are expected to follow. Morosi says that Taylor could sign by Wednesday, potentially getting in just under the wire.
The fact that various teams are interested in Taylor’s services is no surprise, given his extreme defensive versatility. Over his career, Taylor has spent time at every position on the diamond except for catcher, pitcher and first base. In 2021, he appeared in at least eight games at six different positions, and more than 23 games at four different spots. He’s also been an above-average contributor on the offensive side of the game for five consecutive seasons now, by measure of wRC+. Over those five years, he has hit 78 home runs, stolen 50 bases and hit .265/.343/.461 for a wRC+ of 116. The combination of those factors makes it hard to imagine a team that wouldn’t be upgraded by adding Taylor to supplant the least-productive non-catcher in their lineup and slotting him into whatever position they happen to play.
Taking all this under consideration, as well as the fact that Taylor rejected a qualifying offer from the Dodgers, MLBTR predicted Taylor could earn himself a contract of four years and $64MM, AAV of $16MM. However, the free agent market has been quite robust so far, with the majority of players outearning their projections as teams seem to be rushing to get business done before this week’s expected lockout and subsequent transaction freeze. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Taylor, 31, surpass that estimate, either in length or dollars.
The Dodgers are a fairly logical suitor, given that they’ve been utilizing Taylor’s skills for the past five-plus seasons. Although they still have one more season of Trea Turner, whom they acquired at the trade deadline, they’ve also just seen Corey Seager sign on with the Texas Rangers. At the moment, Gavin Lux would probably be pencilled in as the second baseman, but he also has positional versatility and could be bumped into a bench/utility role. In the outfield, Mookie Betts and AJ Pollock should have two spots accounted for, with Cody Bellinger likely taking up a third. But after Bellinger’s miserable 2021 campaign, adding Taylor could provide some insurance in case he can’t bounce back to his MVP-winning form from a couple years ago.
Just like the Dodgers, the Blue Jays have also just watched one of their best players depart for Texas, as Marcus Semien is now a Ranger as well. Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. have two infield spots spoken for, with Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal and Breyvic Valera on hand as options for second or third base. Taylor could potentially take Semien’s spot and bump everyone else down on the depth chart.
The Mariners have already brought Adam Frazier into their infield mix this week, but seem determined to add more. Morosi lists Taylor, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez as infielders they are considering. Baez has since reportedly signed with the Tigers, but Taylor and Bryant both make sense as potential adds at third base, with Abraham Toro then platooning with Frazier at second. Taylor also started his career in Seattle before moving to the Dodgers, which would make for a nice homecoming story. The club has been aggressive in trying to build on a strong 2021 campaign, having also added Robbie Ray in recent days.
Just like Seattle, their division rivals in Anaheim have also been active in gearing up for 2022. They’ve added pitchers Noah Syndergaard, Michael Lorenzen and Aaron Loup, as well as acquiring infielder Tyler Wade from the Yankees. Taylor would be an upgrade over Wade or David Fletcher for the middle infield, as well as providing insurance for an outfield with a few unproven options, as youngsters Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell have shown promise but haven’t locked down jobs just yet.
The Nationals winning the bidding would be a surprise, given that they underwent a huge fire sale at the trade deadline and have been fairly inactive so far this offseason. But they seem determined to avoid a lengthy rebuild and will be aiming to return to contention while they still have the elite production of Juan Soto, whom they control for three more seasons. Other than Soto and Josh Bell, there’s almost no certainty in the team’s lineup, making it very easy for Taylor to be slotted in.
There’s one team that’s apparently not in the mix, however, as Chris Cotillo of MassLive reports that the Red Sox don’t seem to be heavily involved.