The Los Angeles Dodgers have not made any splashy moves this offseason while the rest of the league took part in an arms race. The main theory behind this lack of activity was Trevor Bauer's suspension and contract situation, which were resolved late last week to give the Dodgers an idea of where they stand financially.
Regardless of whether or not the Dodgers release Bauer, they're going to have to pay 112 games worth of his salary this season. Based on arbitration projections on Spotrac, this will put the Dodgers just over the luxury tax threshold for 2023.
This is important because the Dodgers are likely looking to reset the payroll to avoid another hefty luxury tax bill. The tax percentage increases every consecutive year a team is over the threshold, and this would be the third such year for the Dodgers. Instead of being a small number over the tax and increasing the penalty, the Dodgers would be far better off getting under that $233 million figure to reset the penalty and spend big next offseason.
There are several ways to do this, but most recently we have seen the Dodgers make trades to make it happen (Cincinnati Reds trade in 2018, Kimbrel-Pollock deal to remain under $290 million in 2022), and we could see a repeat of that this season.
Chris Taylor is a realistic trade candidate for the Dodgers after the Trevor Bauer news
Shoutout to Daniel Preciado, who first raised a Chris Taylor trade as a possibility. While it would likely upset a lot of Dodgers fans who have already said goodbye to multiple fan favorites, it could be a smart move on all fronts.
Taylor has a $15 million payroll hit this season and is under contract for three more years (with a club option in 2026). Trading Taylor would comfortably get the Dodgers under the luxury tax threshold.
As good as Taylor is when he's at his best, he certainly is expendable for the Dodgers. He's a utility player who is filling in the gaps for the team this season but does not have a dedicated starting spot. Max Muncy will play second, Miguel Vargas will play third, and the team will hopefully bring in another outfielder (that can be cheaper than CT3) to play left. With James Outman in center, there are no starting spots for Taylor.
Having a valuable utility player is a great luxury, but if a team needs to clear money, that's the first place to start. With guys like Michael Busch, Andy Pages, Jacob Amaya and Eddys Leonard already on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers can try to replace Taylor with an internal option.
Plus, Taylor's production is rather hit or miss and his 2022 season was concerning. The Dodgers won't get as much for Taylor by trading him after that 2022 showing, but if he repeats his .677 OPS and 35% strikeout rate then he won't bring much value to the table anyway.
All that being said, there will still be several teams interested in adding Taylor because his contract is not massive and he has all-star potential. This is exactly the kind of player that small- and medium-sized market teams trade for as they try to improve. The Dodgers won't get a top prospect in return, but they could free up money and bring in prospects that they are high on to either develop or flip.
The 2018 trade with the Reds was heavily criticized at the time but ultimately paved the way for the team to get Mookie Betts. Trading Taylor would likely get the same reaction but, like the Reds trade, could ultimately be for the best.