In June last year, the Mariners made what seemed at the time to be a minor trade: they sent infielder Chris Taylor to the Dodgers in exchange for pitcher Zach Lee. Lee disappointed in his 14 starts at Triple-A Tacoma with the Mariners and spent this past season with the Padres. Meanwhile, Taylor has gone on to become a star, putting up outstanding regular season numbers and has helped power the Dodgers into the World Series.
Taylor, 27, hit .240/.296/.296 in 86 games across parts of three seasons with the Mariners. This season with the Dodgers, he hit .288/.354/.496 with 21 home runs, 72 RBI, 85 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases in 568 PA. In the postseason, he has hit safely in eight of 10 games while mashing three homers and drawing 10 walks in 48 trips to the dish. Taylor has also provided value with versatility, playing second base, third base, and shortstop as well as left and center field.
Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto has been watching Taylor excel this October and it stings. He regrets trading Taylor a lot, Matt Calkins of the Seattle Times reports. DiPoto said, “It’s clearly the worst deal I’ve ever made. And it resonates every time he hits a home run.” He added, “I whiffed. There’s no other way to categorize it. He’s young, he was under club control — that was one I wish I could undo.”
As Calkins notes, predicting Taylor’s breakout would have been very difficult. He didn’t become the hitter he is now until meeting Craig Wallenbrock, which happened after the trade. Wallenbrock made mechanical changes to Taylor’s swing and the rest, as they say, is history.
Taylor will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2018 season and can become a free agent after the 2021 season. The Dodgers are very thankful that DiPoto gave up so quickly on Taylor, that’s for sure.