As we’ll now have to wait through a lockout for Freddie Freeman updates following a Very Bad Day for the Dodgers, better news was provided tonight as the team re-signed super utilityman Chris Taylor to a 4-year deal worth $60 million dollars, including a team option for a fifth year that could take it to $73 million.
Sheldon Neuse was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man following his disappointing 2021 stint with the team.
Taylor is coming off a year in which he made his first All-Star team, getting recognition for what he’s done, but he actually didn’t really have a much different year than usual. He put up a .254/344/.438/.782 line and a 113 wRC+ with a WAR around 3, continuing to do what he’s done for the Dodgers since his 2017 breakout. In his career with the team, he has a .264/.341/.458/.799 line and a 115 wRC+, and ranks at #44 in all of baseball in fWAR since 2017 at 14.1, ahead of names like Anthony Rizzo.
Given that wins are worth around $7-9 million in free agency, the contract would be easy enough to justify from that perspective alone, but CT3 has value beyond his production. He once again played every position except first base, catcher, and pitcher in 2021, and this allows the Dodgers exceptional roster flexibility and provides the chance to not only rest their regulars but make Taylor a regular himself. Furthermore, with Gavin Lux currently the leading candidate to start at second base, Taylor provides cover in case he doesn’t breakout in 2022, and insurance in case Cody Bellinger still can’t find his form in center.
4 years and $60 million also just about matches up with what people thought CT3 would get in free agency, though it seems like he turned down better offers to return to the Dodgers.
Of course, CT3 is also a fan favorite because of his postseason heroics (besides seemingly being a great guy), doing things like winning the 2017 NLCS MVP. While the consistency series to series isn’t there, he owns a cumulative .842 OPS in 236 playoff plate appearances, and has provided some of the team’s biggest postseason hits in recent memory.
The latest, of course, came just last year to walk-off the Cardinals in the NLWC game, not to mention the three-homer game in the NLCS to keep the team alive.
It’s hard to find much to complain about in this deal. It’s not especially long-term and the annual salary is quite low, with players just a tick above him in production getting double the years and money. CT3 provides indispensable value to the Dodgers with his utility, provides starter-quality cover for two major question mark areas in 2022, and a possible backup plan at shortstop after next year. Needless to say, it makes all the sense in the world, and as much as he appears glad to be staying a Dodger, fans should be glad the Dodgers retained him as well.