Back in 2016, the Dodgers had basically given up on former first-round pick Zach Lee, who had a 4.89 ERA in Triple-A at the time and had been blown up for seven runs in 4.2 innings in his only big-league start the year before. The Mariners had a minor-league shortstop who didn’t have the prospect pedigree but was batting .312 with an .845 OPS in Triple-A, and Los Angeles swung a trade that seemed pretty inconsequential at the time but has since become either famous or infamous, depending on your point of view.
Today, the #Dodgers acquired infielder Chris Taylor from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for RHP Zach Lee.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 20, 2016
The next offseason, Chris Taylor revamped his swing and turned himself into a totally different player, and in his first full season in L.A., he posted an .850 OPS with 21 homers and helped lead the Dodgers to the 2017 World Series.
Taylor was on Access Dodgers on Tuesday evening, and he talked about that process of being traded away from the team that had drafted him.
“It was really bittersweet for me. Obviously, drafted by the Seattle Mariners, it was a place I though was going to be me home for a long time. Just the way things worked out, I wasn’t able to stick in the big leagues and I was actually in (Triple-A) Tacoma, Washington, when I got the call that I’d been traded and I was excited. I had been constantly back and forth to the big leagues — it just felt like I couldn’t get over that hump. It felt a little like they had given up on me over there, so to be able to start in a new organization was exciting for me and something I really needed and, obviously, it turned out for the best.”
Taylor had a rough season last year, but he’s enjoying a full, healthy offseason that has included a lot of hard work and marrying his sweetheart, so the hope is that he’ll hit the ground running in spring training and get back to being the guy who played excellent defense at multiple positions and posted a 113 OPS+ over his first five full seasons in Los Angeles.
The trade already worked out heavily in L.A.’s favor; Lee pitched three games for the Padres in 2017 and hasn’t been back in the big leagues since, most recently posting a 5.14 ERA in Triple-A for the Rockies last year. Any more value the Dodgers get from Taylor just tips the scales even more.
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