Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners GM on Chris Taylor trade: ‘One we’d like to take back’

Chris Taylor rounds the bases after a home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Houston Astros during the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series last Tuesday. Taylor has hit three home runs in the postseason after hitting only one home run during his time as a Seattle Mariner.
Chris Taylor rounds the bases after a home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Houston Astros during the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series last Tuesday. Taylor has hit three home runs in the postseason after hitting only one home run during his time as a Seattle Mariner. The Associated Press

In the baseball trading game, you win some and you lose some.

And Seattle Mariners’ general manager Jerry Dipoto lost badly on dealing away utility man Chris Taylor.

Once considered the shortstop of the future, Taylor — then 25 — was dealt by Dipoto in 2016 to the Los Angeles Dodgers for right-handed pitcher Zach Lee, a former first-round draft pick.

How did that deal pan out?

Taylor is leading off for the Dodgers in the World Series, and has posted a.403 on-base percentage during the major-league playoffs. In 50 postseason at-bats, he also has three home runs and 12 runs scored.

That production comes on the heels of a stellar first season of regular duty — 21 home runs, 72 runs batted in, 85 runs scored with a .288 batting average and .354 on-base percentage.

And Lee? He is out of professional baseball.

“Boy, Chris is one we’d like to take back,” Dipoto said Monday.

It is understandable, at the time, what Dipoto was trying to do. Even though Taylor had posted an on-base average of .390 or higher in five of his six seasons in the minor leagues of the Mariners’ organization, it never translated to much production in the big leagues.

Dipoto knew the ballclub needed pitching help, and decided to take a gamble on a former big-time pitching prospect in Lee, who had never seemed to be given much of an opportunity to pitch for the Dodgers stuck behind higher-end teammates Julio Urias, Grant Holmes and Jose De Leon.

So, in June of 2016, Dipoto pulled the trigger on the one-for-one deal.

Lee flamed out. He went 0-9 with a 7.76 earned-run average in 14 starts with Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners designated him for assignment six months after the trade, and he was claimed and released again by San Diego.

And after Taylor sought the services of private swing instuctor Craig Wallenbrock, who is credited with helping to turn outfielder J.D. Martinez’s career around, the former infielder’s career has flourished.

“(Taylor) has put together a terrific season.” Dipoto said. “Does it aggravate me when I watch TV? Not at all. I root for Chris. I have to convince myself he is a different player.”

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