Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Chris Taylor has been a valuable contributor in the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup for nearly six years, but a recurring neck injury hindered some of his production in each of the past two years.
Taylor earned his first career All-Star Game selection in 2021, and the Dodgers rewarded him with a four-year, $60 million contract extension that includes a team option for a fifth year.
After posting a .813 on-base plus slugging percentage last April, he followed it up with a .769 OPS during the month of May. Unfortunately for Taylor, he fell off a cliff over the final few months of the regular season.
In addition to missing time in July and parts of August with a fracture in his left foot, Taylor revealed late in the year that a similar neck injury he had in 2021 contributed to timing issues with his swing.
During a recent appearance on “Dodger Talk” with David Vassegh, Taylor explained he has a better understanding of the neck issue and should be able to avoid more trouble, via AM 570 L.A. Sports:
“I think it’s something I’m really going to have to monitor. I have a lot of tension in my traps and neck, and it’s something I’m going to have to be aware of. I’m going to have to be on top of the neck exercises, and my posture is a big thing. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff this offseason to stay on top of it and make sure it doesn’t get back to that point. So I think I’m in a good spot with that.”
Although Taylor missed the final week of the regular season, he was included on the Dodgers’ playoff roster for the National League Division Series.
But unlike in 2021 when he delivered dramatic performances in the postseason, Taylor struggled last October and went hitless in seven at-bats over two games against the San Diego Padres.
During the 2022 regular season, Taylor batted .221/.304/.373 with 25 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 43 RBI and 10 stolen bases across 454 plate appearances.
How Chris Taylor could factor into Dodgers lineup decisions
Taylor has been vocal about his desire to fill in at shortstop for the Dodgers after Trea Turner left in free agency, and he might be the best option given he’s logged the most innings at short between any of their internal guys.
But Taylor’s value is in his versatility, and if he’s locked in at one position that does take away from the Dodgers’ flexibility. The Dodgers front office has kicked around the idea and will continue to do so, by replacing Cody Bellinger’s spot in center field with Taylor, James Outman or Trayce Thompson.
The Dodgers are said to remain interested in the corner outfield free-agent market, but with the bulk of free agency already gone, their best shot is probably with an in-house fix.
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