When the Los Angeles Dodgers sent Zach Lee to the Seattle Mariners for Chris Taylor in a June 2016 trade, it was merely viewed as an opportunity for the two underperforming, former top prospects to get a fresh start elsewhere.
Then, at the suggestion of teammate Justin Turner, Taylor changed his mechanics at the plate last offseason — and the adjustments paid off, to say the least. Taylor, a lifetime .240/.296/.296 hitter with no home runs for the Mariners, set new career highs in nearly category for the Dodgers this season.
The 27-year-old tallied 148 hits, 22 home runs, 72 RBI and an .850 on-base plus slugging percentage during the regular season. All-in-all, his overall production translated to 4.7 WAR (FanGraphs) — good for 13th in the National League.
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto recently expressed regret over trading Taylor, per Matt Calkins of The Seattle Times:
“It’s clearly the worst deal I’ve ever made,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “And it resonates every time he hits a home run.”
“I whiffed. There’s no other way to categorize it,” Dipoto said. “He’s young, he was under club control — that was one I wish I could undo.”
Taylor’s performance, which carried into the postseason has turned the super utility player into a household name around. In 59 plate appearances, he batted .254/.380/.508 with four doubles, one triple, three home runs and seven RBI.
Taylor earned co-MVP honors with Turner in the NL Championship Series, where he produced a .316/.458/.789 slash line with one double, one triple and two home runs in 24 trips to the plate against the Chicago Cubs.
While Taylor has excelled, a new setting didn’t amount to the same for Lee. He was designated for assignment by the Mariners in December 2016 and claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres. The right-hander was then released by the Padres this past August.
Dipoto’s public dismay of dealing Taylor isn’t the first time a general manager has gone on the record to regret a trade with the Dodgers.
Former Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella admitted that parting with Alex Wood was a decision he regretted.