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What Are The Dodgers’ Options for The Slumping Chris Taylor?

Dodgers
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 20: Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers flies out in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on April 20, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Chris Taylor improved a lot during the final two months of the 2018 season. It quietly happened after seemingly leading the world in strikeouts before that.

His numbers coincided with being platooned a lot more in the latter part of the season. With Taylor being platooned with Joc Pederson this season in left field my expectations were that he’d continue to put up good numbers like his last two months. Regretfully, that has not happened as he’s slashing .161/.246/.242 (AVG/OBP/SLG) to begin the season after slashing .211/.297/.404 in Spring Training.

It seems Chris Taylor is broken, so what are some options the Dodgers have for him?

Keep Playing Him

As Brook Smith reported, Dave Roberts is planning on running him out there to either platoon with Joc or to give Corey Seager a break. As Brook reports, his strikeout levels are the same as last year, his exit velocity is down and his launch angle is poor. Doc believes that Taylor deserves more time to prove himself based on his past performance. What many of us wonder is, can CT3 get back to his 2017 (and late 2018) form or is he closer to what we see now? It looks like the Dodgers want to find out.

Option Him To The Minors

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 01: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts at second base during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Chris Taylor has one option left to be sent down to the minors. This means he can be sent down one more year without having to risk losing him. The Dodgers have done similar things before with both Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig. Joc had hit a slump that was only getting worse when he was sent down in 2017.

I believe Joc benefited from being sent to AAA to work on his swing. He was able to get some extra instruction and it seemed to pay off in the 2017 World Series.

If they were to option him then how do replace Taylor’s versatility on defense? He provides outfield defense and is Seager’s primary backup. It looks like the two best options he could switch with would be Daniel Castro and Drew Jackson. Both are right handed hitters and play a good shortstop. Jackson has even played some outfield this year. Alex Verdugo would, hopefully, pick up the Taylor playing time.

One disadvantage of sending him to the minors is he would not be able to work with the hitting coaches. He’d probably need to be sent down to the Quakes in single-A ball to continue to work with the majors hitting coaches or with consultant Craig Wallenbrock, who is in the dugout for many Quakes games. Most likely he’d be sent to Oklahoma City in AAA. My feeling is that it will take another month of continued poor hitting for the Dodgers to consider sending him down.


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The Phantom Injured List

If Chris Taylor somehow finds himself “injured” then he’d not have to face the indignity of being optioned to the minors. The advantage of the IL option is that position players can take up to 20 days on a rehab assignment. He could easily rehab with the Quakes and still have the advantages of the hitting coaches as stated above. This could be the best option as it lets him get some work in without much pressure.

Other Options

We hear screams of release, trade or DFA (Designate For Assignment) in many areas but these are not realistic options. You don’t just give away a player with an accumulative WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 8.9 over the last two years. His trade value is very low and it would seem that it would be a bad time to sell low on CT3. Many teams would love to steal him from the Dodgers and there is no way the Dodgers are giving him away.

Final Thoughts

Chris Taylor is a player who has had a lot of success with the Dodgers but his at-bats are painful to watch right now. How long should the Dodgers wait for him to improve? Right now there doesn’t seem to be any indicators that he’s improving.

I do wonder about his bat path. It looks like the bat is in the hitting zone for a very short time with a little loopiness in the swing. How do they get him the help he needs? Having him figure it out against Major League pitching does not seem to be ideal. The “Phantom IL” option seems like the best option to get CT3 rolling again.

What do you think?

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Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

12 Comments

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  1. Agree with your assessment of the Taylor mess. Roberts is able to be a “great players manager” and keep his nice guy profile because the Dodgers are doing well and guys like Bellinger are carrying the club.
    History tells us that when a club is having a run they should attempt to win as many games as possible as there will be a slump. In playing Taylor the Dodgers are not sending out the best team every night and it has cost them some games.

    Verdugo should not sit. The kid is Hot. You ride guys that are on a streak contrary to Robert’s philosophy. It is that philosophy and his less than stellar management of the pitching staff that makes him not, in my opinion ,a great manager.

    • The Phantom thing needs to be done now_He needs to work on his swing period–Kike can Back up at SS if need be–I would bring up D J Peters—–Turner & Muncy and Freese can al play the infield –Turner plays a very good 2B Freese plays a good 3B–Muncy plays 1B 2B 3B average but ok–DJ strikesout yes but has big power–Id give him a chance a RH bat is needed–Now that said I would play Verdugo 24/7–Every single game–Give Pollock time of against RH pitchers also—Turner & Seager need rest also–not alot but just not play everyday–maybe miss ond day a week for awhile-I do NOT want to lose Pollock Turner or Seager to the DL at all–Give all 3 rest–Look if they play 135 games thats fine with me-Muncy Verdugo Joc Freese Kike and even DJ could easily pick up for all 3 of them without losin much of anything–I would still like to see them get at least 500 ABs each-Whats wrong with that?

  2. I agree with tmaxster, Verdugo should play as much as possible. The Dodgers brain-trust is convinced that Taylor will turn around his hitting foes. I doubt it and playing Taylor will cost the team wins in the standings. The D-backs and Padres are breathing down the Dodgers necks. Yes both these teams Can beat the Dodgers for the Division! Look at Pederson’s 0-5 night, 2-strike-outs after Not playing for 3-games against the Cubs. It was Archer(RHP) for the Pirates. If Bellinger is not playing 1st, its Muncy/Freese and both these guys have forgotten how to hit or in the case of Muncy, opposing pitchers have figured him out. At least Barnes contributed to the win(finally). Seager is inconsistent game-to-game. I’m afraid opposing teams will start walking(intentionally) Bellinger and force another Dodger to beat them.

    • I agree if I were the opposing club anytime Bellinger came up with runners on I would walk him until they can get someone to protect him. Hopefully Turner’s bat looks to be heating up. Seager is obviously very rusty and not playing at his norm. Many were afraid he would have a slow start this year he had two surgeries.
      Muncy has not been consistent and AJ Pollock is struggling. Kike was hot early but has tailed off.

      I absolutely do not understand bringing up Rocky Gale who is a scrub catcher over Smith to give him valuable experience. Gale is not an offensive threat and from his past record probably never will be. If they believe in Will Smith why is he not on the club learning how to be a major leaguer? It makes no sense…

      I wonder if this is more of Idiot Roberts loving bench players as he was one.

      • Tmaxter, concur as far as Gale is concerned…he has NO business being up here when we do have better options. But Martin is due back real soon so that will help there. and ya are right on about what may or will take place with Bellinger. If the rest of the heart of the order continue to struggle, look for Bellinger to not only be pitched around, but will be walked consistently.

      • Oh and tmaxter, a possible answer to your last sentence up here in regards about Roberts loving bench players, this is most likely also a directive from his master of puppets upstairs.

  3. Great article! I think the best bet would be to start him less. Start Verdugo more. Use him for late game double switches, get his glove in there. Or, do the 10 day IL.; like you say. That sounds like the best option at this time. I am like you; can’t give up on him. His WAR has been 4+ each of the last 2 years. You can’t trade him or DFA him. Some other team may already have the fix. Then we would face another 4+ WAR player. Anyway, Verdugo is slowly increasing his playing time. He may force his way right in.

  4. Well, I am pulling for Taylor but I get what ya all above here are saying. Problem for Dodgers , as the weakness of hitting LHP was exposed by the Cubs, and what little RH hitting we have, is not doing much against them either. Somehow, if Taylor is sent down, replace him with another RH bat if possible, because as I said yesterday, Dodgers lack any real RH run producer right now and there is really nobody in the system as far as RH bats go…I know DJ Peters was talked about but I am not yet ready to see another Billy Ashley up here either.

  5. What has happened to Toles? I keep hearing out for “personal reasons” it’s almost May Is he ever coming back? A healthy Toles would have been perfect replacement for struggling Taylor

  6. At this point Verdugo should get Taylors spot in the outfield rotation, Hernandez should get Taylors spot in the infield ortation and Taylor should be sent down to OKC. It’s pretty simple. But Dave loves Taylor and we all know that means nothing is going to change. If I were one of the guys losing playing time to Taylor I would be none too happy. But I don’t think Dave ever thinks about that. Striking out every three plate appearances is not a good look. Not changing your swing and continuing to get the same negative result, that is a minor league player. At this point his only value is late inning defensive replacement to close out wins.

  7. Maybe it’s something as simple as CT3 needing to have his eyes checked. I remember getting to Pony league when I was about 14 coming off an extremely good previous year. I wondered what happened as my hitting completely fell apart. Problem was I couldn’t see a thing and had developed a fair amount of Astigmatism in my Left Eye. Glasses resolved that problem pdq, but I struggled for about 1/2 a season and it really killed my confidence. A set of glasses and things were fine after that.

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