The Los Angeles Dodgers are alive in the National League Championship Series thanks to a guy who could be the Chicago White Sox’ answer at second base this winter.
Chris Taylor is currently starring as this fall’s Mr. October. He blasted three homers, collecting four total hits and driving in six runs, in Game 5 of the NLCS to prevent the Dodgers’ elimination Thursday night. That after he hit a walk-off homer in the NL Wild Card game earlier this month.
For much of his career in Los Angeles, he’s been the Dodgers’ version of Leury García, flashing an unbelievable amount of versatility. And like García did for the White Sox in their brief postseason stay, Taylor has a knack for clutch hits.
Interestingly enough, it could be Taylor who forces García into the role he’s best suited for on this White Sox roster. Taylor’s a free agent this offseason, and he might just be one of the best options to fill the White Sox’ hole at second base.
There’s no long-term answer at the position after Rick Hahn swapped second baseman of the present and future Nick Madrigal for All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel at the trade deadline. Even if the Kimbrel deal had worked out for the White Sox — and it didn’t — there would still be a need for someone to play second. Hahn’s other hole-plugging deadline deal, for César Hernández, also failed to pan out, and it wouldn’t surprise to see the White Sox decline Hernández’s option for next season.
The free-agent market boasts an undoubted top second baseman in Marcus Semien, and if the White Sox could find a way to bring him back to the South Side after he smacked a record-setting 46 homers for the Toronto Blue Jays, that would be a remarkable splash, the kind of thing a team in an arms race with other American League contenders does in the middle of a promising contention window.
Of course, Semien could also be considered part of this winter’s outrageously good crop of free-agent shortstops. And he couldn’t be blamed for seeking a shortstop-style payday — and, you know, a job as a major league shortstop, which the White Sox obviously cannot offer.
Taylor might not have blasted 46 homers during the regular season, but he could be a No. 2 option to Semien for teams looking for a free-agent second baseman. And not a bad one, either, as he’s currently showing in October. Really, he shows it just about every October, with a career .259/.366/.477 slash line in a whopping 61 playoff games thanks to the Dodgers’ perennially lengthy postseason runs.
Before these playoffs started, Taylor was an All Star. He slashed .277/.382/.452 in the first half before slowing down after the break, when he was dealing with a pinched nerve in his neck. That did little to impact his durability, though. He played in 148 games this season, in 56 during the 60-game campaign last season — which ended with his Dodgers winning the World Series — and in 419 of the Dodgers’ 486 games during the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons.
All the while, he’s done the kind of thing that always sends major league front offices raving. Taylor has played seven different positions as a big leaguer, including designated hitter. He played the other six in 2021 alone, with 61 games in center field, 46 at second base, 30 in left field, 23 at shortstop, 11 at third base and eight in right field.
Certainly the argument could be made that the best role for Taylor is the best role for García: someone who’s not wedged into one position on a daily basis but has the ability to move all over the field, allowing his manager to take advantage of that versatility. García, too, is slated to hit free agency this winter. And while his familiarity with the White Sox and his status as a beloved figure in that clubhouse would make a reunion unsurprising, he could likely find a job at the top of a major league depth chart somewhere.
But whether García returns for 2022 or not, you can never have too much versatility. The White Sox need an answer both at second base and in right field, another place both Taylor and García can play. While the team would surely love to see further development from Andrew Vaughn to the degree they can continue to make him a regular presence in their lineup, Taylor could deliver a greater level of dependability, given his experience, and allow the White Sox to keep mixing and matching at second, in right and at DH.
Taylor wouldn’t be the splash that Semien would be, of course, and no one’s advocating for passing on a chance to land that kind of big bat. But if it’s not in the cards, Taylor becomes a very intriguing option — one who’s played in three of the last four World Series.
Thanks to his October heroics, he might be about to make it four of the last five Fall Classics. And that’s exactly where the White Sox want to be.