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Dodgers: Enrique Hernandez or Chris Taylor – Which Super-Utility Should LA Keep?

A tough question for Dodger fans.

Dodgers
DENVER, COLORADO - JUNE 27: Kike Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by Chris Taylor #3 after hitting a 3 RBI home run in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 27, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a problem — depth. As it currently stands, they have an abundance of versatile players on the current roster and an even more of up-and-coming young talent. It’s not a bad problem to have, but it could be a problem nonetheless.

The Surplus

The Dodgers’ current 40-man roster has Kyle Garlick, Joc Pederson, DJ Peters, AJ Pollock, and Alex Verdugo strictly playing the outfield. Gavin Lux, Zach McKinstry, Max Muncy, Edwin Rios, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Tyler White round out the infield. Then there’s Matt Beaty, Cody Bellinger, Kiké Hernández, and Chris Taylor who are capable of playing both infield and outfield positions.

Even if the Dodgers were to send Garlick, Peters, McKinstry, Rios, and White to the minors (which they will), that’s still seven players available to play three outfield positions — or seven to play four infield positions. With Bellinger, Muncy, Pollock, Seager, Turner, and Verdugo being locks to play anytime they are healthy and available, LA essentially has five players vying for the remaining two spots.

Yes, the Dodgers tend to platoon based on opposing pitching and they still want bench availability for situational hitting. However, with David Freese and Kristopher Negrón retiring, as well as Russell Martin and Jedd Gyorko becoming free agents, the roster may have room for some of the previously mentioned players to remain in the majors.

Odd Men Out?

It’s no secret the Dodgers are pursuing a right-handed power bat this off-season. Considering they are looking to find that bat in a third baseman, which would move Turner to 1st, it mitigates the need for two right-handed utility players. 

In 2019, Matt Beaty emerged as a solid left-handed hitter that can play the outfield and corner infield. Add in Bellinger, Lux, Muncy, Seager, and Turner as other infield options, and the Dodgers will have plenty of depth with just one right-handed utility player to accompany the potential right-handed power bat they wish to acquire.

So which utility player do the Dodgers part ways with?

Kiké v. Taylor

Kiké Hernández and Chris Taylor have been key utility cogs in the Dodgers machine since 2015 and 2016. They’ve platooned various positions, filled in nicely for injured regulars, and had some huge moments of their own in some big situations. The problem is, they are essentially the same player.  They play sound defense at the same positions, post similar offensive numbers, and both bat from the right side.

Defensively over their careers, Hernandez edges out Taylor in most categories, but Taylor does boast the better overall dWAR. Offensively, Taylor has the better career slash line, .262/.331/.441 to Kiké’s .241/.316/.426 and also averages more runs, RBIs, and walks. However, Kiké does tend to hit more home runs, but he strikes out significantly less than Taylor.

Contract wise, they’re both set to make about the same through arbitration, but Hernandez can become a free agent after the 2020 season while Taylor is under team control for an additional season.

Final Thoughts

Ideally, the Dodgers will aim to free up $4-6M by offloading one this winter, but it’s difficult to anticipate which one. Kiké Hernandez is a huge fan favorite for his exceptional defensive ability anywhere on the field. Additionally, he has promising power and a fun personality that seems to convince many fans that he should be a Dodger for life. 

Chris Taylor is more stoic, but he is still well revered by fans. Known for starting the “barrels are overrated” hand wagging, Taylor’s offense is more consistent and his defense is quite good.

Which of the two the Dodgers would part ways with is going to depend on who else they give up in a move to fill up other holes on the roster. Taylor has long been preferred over Kiké to be backup shortstop, but Kiké literally fills in everywhere else. That being said, with Matt Beaty serving as backup to the corners — along with an outfield loaded with depth — that leaves Kiké only needed as back up second baseman behind Gavin Lux and Max Muncy.

As stated earlier, both players have been integral components for Dave Roberts and the Dodgers. They’ve had some very big moments and in the words of Doc, “have gotten us there before.” Moving on from either won’t be easy for parts of the fan base, but it’ll be best for the team. With less shared playing time between the two, perhaps it’ll be better for them individually as well.

NEXT: Kiké Hernandez to the Mets in a Trade?

Written by Jason McClure

Technically a Dodgers bandwagon fan. At 5 years old, I decided they were my favorite team after hearing they won the World Series on my mom’s car radio in 1988. My father (technically my stepfather) watered that seed, teaching me the game and introducing me to the beauty of Dodger Stadium. We got to know each other and bonded over games. Even when we couldn’t get along during my teenage years, we could come together over Vin Scully’s voice and a game. Dodger baseball is, and will always be, so much more than just a game.

10 Comments

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  1. White is out of minor league options. Kiké is the better all around utility player, but a free agent after 2020 while Taylor is under team control through 2021. Sign Kiké to a 3 year, $21M extension and trade Taylor.

    • I agree with you my choice would be Kike. Taylor has been awful with RISP not able to make contact. Plus I think Kike is a great clubhouse guy and that is a hard to quantify value.
      For Utility I like Beaty and his ability to make contact and believe with a year in the Big League and better coaching he will improve. Beaty could be a true hit machine he has the gift to hit the ball.
      I am hoping they trade Taylor, Pederson plus prospects and possibly Maeda to get a right handed bat and reliever depending of course o whatever they do via trade and free agents.
      I think they sign Ryu.

    • Hi Socal! You nailed it……….Kike should be the chosen one………Taylor will be missed but if you have to choose………

  2. Im trading AJ. Pollack cf, and C.Taylor utl, and Turner 3b for a closer, and a starting pitcher. This will give la the cap space to add fa 3base from wash. And a starting pitcher fa. Also Jensen should learn another pitch, has no fastball its a trade along with the group or for bonus money and a prospect and Kershaw is a 4th starter and not a bullpen pitcher. His fastball is gone. STOP GIVING AWAY FARM PLAYERS FOR RENTALS. CAME BACK TO BITE LA IN WS, YOU HAVE A GOOD GROUP TEACH THEM THE GAME AND LET THEM PLAY. Your young players are balling out. Keep Joc in rf, Cody in cf, give Kiki a 1b mit and send him to winter ball.

  3. You r going to hate it when Kiki or CT become Stars on a team that beats you in the playoffs. Howie Kendrick ??? Cody and Cory need to strike out less an play basic baseball instead of home runs every at bat. Get something for Lux before he’s a bust.

  4. Taylor is a better player at bat for sure. And he is above average to excellent at any position that you throw him at. He’s also going to stay with the Dodgers a lot longer. The option is very clear to me. It still sucks to let kike go, but my boy Taylor will get the job done.

  5. The Dodgers have much better options waiting in the minors. You forget Lux is a SS and backup Seager. Make the choice easy and get rid of both of them. They aren’t worth the money.

    • Ed great point. Plus they have newly added McKinstry 2nd base on the 40 man roster. Downs and Estevez Are pushing hard to get to the show in the minors both mid infielders.
      And Lux is as u stated a SS. If they move Turner To 1st they must find a place for Muncy. So Seager goes to 3rd and Lux to SS with Muncy st 2nd.? Muncy Greatly improved
      His defense last year. It’s crowded with new talent coming up they need to trade some of the older guys.

  6. Taylor is my boy. Quite moving him around and let him play. When he covered for Corey and batted regularly he was the stable one. He is good at stealing and one of the fastest runners. The rookies need to wait just a bit longer. I have seen them bomb out. Taylor is your man and on the edge to improve greatly.

  7. CT3 is one of my favorite players so I am a wee bit biased on my choice…..keep Chris Taylor. I think he stays in the game a little better than Kike….no mental lapses in base running or knowing how many outs in a inning. I think they are equal in defense, but Chris better batting average, at least this year.

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