Blue Jays: The pros and cons of signing Chris Taylor this offseason
Yesterday, rumours started to swirl that free agent Chris Taylor, who was given the qualifying offer worth $18.4 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers, will reportedly reject the QO and will test the open market tied to draft pick compensation. With the Blue Jays looking at a few holes in the roster with Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, and Marcus Semien potentially leaving the squad via free agency, it is no surprise that the club has been active early this offseason.
While the club has not been actively linked to Taylor as of yet, with him now rejecting the offer, the rumour mill should now start to begin churning and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays don’t at least kick the tires on the former Dodgers utility man. Jays Journal expert Chris Henderson simulated the Blue Jays offseason simulated the offseason four times on MLB the Show and the Blue Jays did pick up Taylor in one of the scenarios.
For his career, Taylor sports a .261/.337/.443 with 79 home runs, 309 RBI, and a .779 OPS through 743 games across 8 seasons. Drafted by the Seattle Mariners back in 2012, the righty-batter didn’t really come into his own until he was traded to the Dodgers in 2016. Since heading to California, the Virginia product now has an all-star award, NLCS MVP award, and a World Series ring in his trophy case and is looking to cash in this offseason.
Defensively, Taylor fits the mold of a utility player, having over 100 games at four different positions since reaching the major leagues. He has the most reps at shortstop (258 games) and follows that with stints in center field (186) and left field (177) and 124 games at second base. Taylor also has experience at third base and right field but is limited to less than 50 games at both positions. His best position in terms of defensive runs saved is in left field, where he owns a 13 bDRS through 1144.1 innings of work.
One reason Taylor does make sense with the Blue Jays is that if Marcus Semien leaves, he can fill in at second base but also fill in at third if the club does not pick up a veteran third baseman this offseason. He most likely won’t be adding the same production value as Semien but if Cavan Biggio struggles at the plate this season and the club isn’t ready to hand off the reigns to Otto Lopez, having Taylor on the roster will keep the Blue Jays competitive as they try to reach the playoffs after narrowly missing out last season.
One potential free-agent target the Blue Jays could pursue this offseason is utility man Chris Taylor but is he worth the asking price?
Another reason is with how Taylor can play multiple positions, meaning if the club does not want to use him as the primary player at second base, they can rotate him around to give George Springer or other players some time off in the DH position, as he has enough defensive ability to cover multiple areas. This bodes well considering Springer missed some time last season with the knee/leg injuries and his veteran experience would be a benefit to the younger club, especially if the team is looking to give increased reps to Santiago Espinal at third base this new year.
One will be the obvious price tag, in that by him rejecting the QO, any club that signs him will now have to forfeit draft picks under the current CBA. This might be a tall task for a utility-type player considering the Jays lost their second-round pick last season due to the Springer signing. I don’t mind the club losing a draft pick to bring a big-ticket free agent like Carlos Correa or Corey Seager (which won’t happen but you get the idea) but for Taylor seems like a big ask that isn’t really worth the price in what would be a pick in the top five rounds. He does rank high on a few free-agent boards but does he really fulfill enough of a need to justify the ask?
The second reason has to do with whether signing Taylor would be filling in an actual need on the team. Biggio already occupies the utility role on the squad and even if the club decides to use him as the primary second baseman next year, does the team really need another utility-type player on the roster? Prospects Otto Lopez and Jordan Groshans could find themselves knocking on the door this season and could also play second or other infield positions like third base if need be (now we’re in Espinal and Kevin Smith territory) and considering Taylor’s experience is mostly in the outfield, an area the club already has enough depth in, seems like wasted dollars. This changes if the club does trade Randal Grichuk or Lourdes Gurriel Jr. this offseason but until then, the outfield would get a bit more crowded.
While the interest might start to shape up over time, the Blue Jays should look elsewhere this free agency if they are looking for an upgrade up the middle or a replacement for Semien, who everyone is predicting will sign with the Seattle Mariners. It makes sense that Taylor wants to test the open market after the season he put together but with the draft pick compensation and a pending lockout, it might be best for the Jays to look elsewhere this offseason.