Free Agency Targets: Could the Mariners Reunite with Chris Taylor?

SEATTLE - JULY 07: Chris Taylor #1 of the Seattle Mariners takes batting practice before the game against the Detroit Tigers at Safeco Field on July 7, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners defeated the Tigers 7-6. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
SEATTLE - JULY 07: Chris Taylor #1 of the Seattle Mariners takes batting practice before the game against the Detroit Tigers at Safeco Field on July 7, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners defeated the Tigers 7-6. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Back in 2012, the Mariners drafted a light-hitting utility player out of Virginia in the 5th round. He would hit well in the minors, and have a strong, albeit short, rookie season in Seattle during 2014. After a rough 2015, Seattle would actually trade him away to the Dodgers in 2016. Since then, Chris Taylor has seemed like a completely different player.

There’s always a cautionary tale with giving up too early on young players. Chris Taylor is definitely one of those. The Mariners traded him away during his age-25 season. TRIVIA… who did they get for Taylor? The answer will be later to let you think about it. It’s still pretty early to give up on a player, especially when they only had 256 PAs in the majors under their belt.

At 31, Chris Taylor could be a good fit to reunite with the Mariners

He’s a super-utility guy, who spent most of 2021 in CF (423 Innings) and at 2B (294 Innings). He was much more effective at second, saving runs as compared to giving a couple up in Center. He was also effective in Right Field as well and could help spell Mitch Haniger there for some DH days for the Silver Slugger Finalist.

I do worry that Chris Taylor is going to cost a lot more to obtain than he would’ve even a month ago. Recency bias affects everyone, and Taylor had an incredible postseason this year for the Dodgers. The game-winner against the Cards, and the massive game 5 to stave off elimination against the Braves for one more game will both likely show in what he ends up making this year.

He’s coming to the end of a 2-$13.5 that he signed with the Dodgers. I truly think that he is going to demand more than that on the open market, as teams are going to value the track record and postseason experience. If the Mariners strike out on the top-tier guys, Taylor would be an entertaining fit… as long as they could get him for a reasonable price.

What kind of stats are they going to get from him though? I worry a bit that his flyball rate was so high this year, reaching a career-high of 32.3%. His previous full-season high was 26.0%. That also falls in line with a much higher pull rate (33.4% as compared to 25.7%). Could he be falling into the Seager mindset of embracing swinging for the fences? It’s very possible.

He’s had a relatively consistent BABIP, so I don’t see his average falling much, which should be a positive sign. He’s gone .254/.262/.270/.254 the last four seasons, so expecting something around .260 is a reasonable expectation. He was a 20 HR/10 SB this year as well and could provide a much-needed power/speed combo for the team.

The big question with Taylor is going to be the contract. He had two great years to start with the Dodgers, putting up a WAR of 8.7 combined in 2017-18. Over the last three years, he has gone 1.5, 2.0, 2.7. Remember, that 2.0 from last year was in a shortened season, so it’s actually a good number.

So what would we be willing to pay for a super-utility guy who can play above-average defense at second base, with decent pop and average to go along with it? If the Mariners could get a 2-3 year contract with him for around $8-10 per year, I think it would be a good signing. Yes, there are other high-level hitters out there that would make the team better, but you can’t sign everyone.

If it came out that the Mariners struck out on the big names, and settled on signing Taylor to a 2-20 with a third year $12m option, I’d be okay with that.

Next. Mariners Free Agent Target: Paying for Max Scherzer. dark

Let us know what you think. Would Chris Taylor be a good fit for the Mariners? Or does reuniting with someone that the team traded away sting a little too much? I think it would be an interesting fit, and he could provide a good mix of veteran leadership, skill, and postseason experience to the Mariners. The answer, by the way, was Zach Lee. Woof.

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