Last offseason, though it was clear they weren’t integral to the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ overall success, Kiké Hernandez and Joc Pederson departed in free agency.
Shouldn’t have been a big deal, right? With Mookie Betts in right field, Cody Bellinger in center, AJ Pollock in left, Chris Taylor holding down utility duties, Gavin Lux expected to take a leap forward, and Zach McKinstry hopefully emerging as another Swiss Army knife player, what was the worry?
It turns out, injury issues with Betts, Pollock and McKinstry, Bellinger’s all-time regression, and Lux’s bit of a sophomore slump derailed whatever grand plans LA had … even though they won 106 games.
See we didn’t mention Taylor there? That’s because he was an All-Star. Forget about his sluggish second half that saw his average drop from .285 to .254 and his OPS plummet below .800. He helped this team get through stretches without their best players performing.
And most importantly, he is ALIVE for the 2021 postseason, saving the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves.
The Dodgers can’t let Chris Taylor depart in free agency.
He’ll be a free agent for the first time in his career when the offseason arrives, and the Dodgers can’t make the same mistake with the 31-year-old Taylor that they made by letting Hernandez go. It’s been painful to watch Hernandez have a legendary postseason with the Boston Red Sox while the Dodgers have forced to dig deep for a semblance of offense, hasn’t it?
So far in October, Taylor has sent the Dodgers to the NLDS with a walk-off home run in the Wild Card Game and has carried the team offensively in the NLCS, which included THREE home runs and SIX RBI in a win-or-go-home Game 5. He now owns the Dodgers’ franchise record for most RBI (nine) in playoff elimination games.
He’s played second base, shortstop, third base, and all three outfield positions — effectively — for the Dodgers the last few years. He’s been unbelievably clutch, both in the regular season and postseason. He won MVP of the 2017 NLCS. And here are some telling regular season stats:
- With runners in scoring position: 274 average with an .826 OPS
- In high-leverage situations: .292 average with an .846 OPS
This time around, there’s no logjam to use as an excuse not to pay him. His contributions have been consistent and undeniable. He’s part of the Dodgers’ DNA over the last five years. In a way, so was Pederson, and look how that’s turned out.
Andrew Friedman has a lot on his offseason docket, so he better start planning offers for Taylor right now since the Dodgers won’t have much time between their season ending and the start of free agency.