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.
Chris Taylor had an up-and-down year. But did you know his final 2 months were borderline elite? .320/.952ops, both top 10 in the NL. Snuck up on me.
— Joe Davis (@Joe_Davis) February 7, 2019
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
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.
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.
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 wonder if Taylor has his bat in the zone less than 2017. These ABs are painful to watch. There needs to be better “options” available for him to work on his issues. Right now, they are wasting plate appearances on him. I feel awful for him.
— Tim Rogers (SD Dodger) (@SDDodger) April 25, 2019
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.