The Red Sox could steal Chris Taylor away from the Dodgers
Chaim Bloom’s vision for rebuilding the Boston Red Sox was expected to follow a similar blueprint to the one his old mentor Andrew Friedman used to turn the Dodgers into a juggernaut. We didn’t realize that plan involved prying several of his players away from Los Angeles.
The Red Sox acquired Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade and they signed Enrique Hernandez in free agency last year. Now Bloom appears to have his eyes set on another Dodger and this one comes with an All-Star appearance on his resume.
No, the Red Sox probably aren’t going to be in the mix for Corey Seager, although we can’t rule that out considering they’ve shown surprising interest in several other shortstops available in this free agent market.
According to MLB.com’s Juan Toribio, the Red sox are among the teams interested in Chris Taylor. The Cardinals, Rangers, Giants, and Marlins are the other teams mentioned in the report. There could be more suitors, plus the Dodgers remain interested in re-signing him.
Taylor was an All-Star for the first time in his career this season. He hit .254 with a .782 OPS, 20 home runs and 73 RBI.
The super-utility man has the versatility that the Red Sox covet. Taylor played six different positions this season but spent the majority of his time in center field or at second base. Those happen to be the two positions that Kike filled for the Red Sox this season so the former teammates could share those roles if Taylor were to sign with Boston.
Taylor was on his way to a career year when he hit .277/.382/.452 with a 133 OPS+ in his first 86 games. He then fell into a second-half slump, hitting .223/.290/.419 with a 90 OPS+ in his final 62 regular season games. His 10 home runs after the break actually matched his first-half total but a drastic reduction in his walk rate and a rising strikeout rate spoiled his overall production.
He bounced back with a strong postseason, going 13-for-37 (.351) with four home runs and 12 RBI. His heroics on the playoff stage, including a walk-off home run in the Wild Card game against the Cardinals, certainly improve his market but they don’t entirely erase concerns about his brutal second half.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts that Taylor will receive a four-year, $64 million deal. The average annual value would be double what the Red Sox are paying Hernandez next season despite that they had nearly identical production and fill similar versatile roles. Bloom found a bargain with Hernandez coming off a down season whereas the price tag on Taylor seems inflated by the All-Star sticker next to his name despite that he finished the year with production in line with his career level.
Taylor rejected the one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer from the Dodgers, which means any other team that signs him in free agency will forfeit a draft pick plus international bonus pool money. The Red Sox are in position to pay that price with an extra second-round pick this year plus a comp pick for losing Eduardo Rodriguez to the Tigers. The extra draft ammunition makes the penalty easier to swallow but is Taylor a worthwhile free agent to waste it on?
Boston could use an upgrade at second base and a stronger defensive infield. Taylor could solve that by either taking over the position or patrolling center field so that Kike can cover second base. Taylor’s ability to fill several other positions provides an extra layer of security in the event of injuries. There’s a clear role for Taylor on this team but the decision to sign him or not will boil down to the price.
Bloom appears to be “showing interest” it every free agent who fits the roster. Obviously, he can’t sign all of them and it can be frustrating to the fan base when the Red Sox miss out on options they were supposedly in the mix for. Casting a wide net is a wise strategy though. Taylor is an option to monitor this offseason. If the penalty for signing a free agent who declined the qualifying offer scares away potential suitors, Bloom will be ready to pounce if Taylor’s market dips to a reasonable range.