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Chris Taylor returns to Dodgers on 4-year contract

Taylor signs for a reported $60 million over four years

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants - Game Two Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Chris Taylor, the dependable multifaceted rock whose versatility was key to the Dodgers success the last five seasons, is back for more. Taylor returns to Los Angeles on a multi-year deal, the team announced on Wednesday night.

Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic was the first to report the agreement between Taylor and the Dodgers, and Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times also reported an agreement was reached.

Rosenthal reported Taylor’s contract at four years, $60 million, with an option for a fifth season. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the contract includes incentives.

The timing is interesting, with a lockout expected after 8:59 p.m. PT on Wednesday night once the collective bargaining agreement expires. Barring a last-minute change, this will likely be the last Dodgers transaction for a while.

Sheldon Neuse was designated for assignment to make room on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster.

Taylor is the fourth Dodgers free agent to sign this offseason, and the first to return. Max Scherzer got $130 million over three years in New York and Corey Seager signed with Texas for 10 years, $325 million. Those two deals were finalized Wednesday, as was Corey Knebel’s one-year, $10 million contract with Philadelphia.

Taylor on November 17 rejected the Dodger’ qualifying offer of one year, $18.4 million, which would have meant a compensatory pick for the Dodgers after the fourth round of the 2022 MLB Draft. But that’s moot now, with his return to Los Angeles.

He made his first All-Star team last season, in what was a fairly typical Chris Taylor year. He started at six different positions and hit .254/.344/.438 with 20 home runs. He set career highs in runs scored (92), runs batted in (73), and walks (63).

Taylor’s 113 wRC+ marked a fifth straight season with above-average offense, incredible production from someone who’s started at shortstop, second base, third base, and all three outfield positions throughout his career.

In 2021, Taylor made $7.8 million in the second season of a two-year contract that bought out his final two years of salary arbitration eligibility.

He turned 31 in August.

Since the start of 2017, Taylor ranks 20th in the National League in both Baseball Reference WAR (14.8) and FanGraphs WAR (14.1). Accounting for the truncated 2020 campaign, that averages out somewhere between 3.2-3.4 WAR for Taylor per full season once he became a regular with the Dodgers.

A composite of national MLB free agent predictions had Taylor pegged for roughly a four-year contract at $60-65 million, which is also in line with our writers roundtable here at True Blue LA. Just over half (53.2 percent) of True Blue LA readers picked the Dodgers as Taylor’s free agent destination.

Taylor is one of five Dodgers to play in 60 postseason games. Four of his nine postseason home runs came in 2021, including a walk-off to win the National League wild card game and a three-homer game to keep Los Angeles alive in Game 5 of the NLCS.

For the latter, Taylor got a curtain call at Dodger Stadium.

“This is why you play the game. When you look back on all the years playing for the Dodgers, it’s all these big postseason games that are the most special to me,” Taylor said during the NLCS. “I think these are moments that we’re going to be able to look back on for the rest of our lives and it’s pretty cool.”

Taylor in parts of eight major league seasons with the Mariners and Dodgers is a .261/.337/.443 hitter, a 111 wRC+ with 146 doubles, 79 home runs, and 58 stolen bases.

Once Taylor’s deal is finalized, the Dodgers will need to make a corresponding 40-man roster move.