Free agents Corey Seager and Chris Taylor decline qualifying offers from the Dodgers
Shortstop Corey Seager and utility man Chris Taylor both declined $18.4-million qualifying offers Wednesday, officially untethering the free agents from the Dodgers but not necessarily ending their tenures with the club.
The Dodgers are expected to try to retain Seager and Taylor, but if they sign elsewhere, the Dodgers will receive draft picks from the teams that sign them.
The Dodgers did not extend a qualifying offer to free-agent left-hander Clayton Kershaw. Pitcher Max Scherzer and closer Kenley Jansen, the team’s other two prominent free agents, weren’t eligible for qualifying offers.
Seager, 27, is one of the top shortstops on the market along with Carlos Correa. The left-handed-hitting slugger could command a deal in the $300-million range, with the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers among his potential suitors.
Seager is an elite offensive player at a premium position when healthy — he hit .307 with a .943 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 15 homers and 41 RBIs in 52 games in pandemic-shortened 2020 and earned National League Championship Series and World Series most valuable player honors in the 2020 postseason.
While the Dodgers wait to sort out the Trevor Bauer contract situation, chief executive Andrew Friedman must rebuild the roster and reset the payroll.
But he was limited by a fractured right hand to 95 games last season, batting .306 with a .915 OPS, 16 homers and 57 RBIs, and he was not as impactful in October, hitting .170 (nine for 53) with two homers, three doubles and six RBIs in 12 playoff games.
While there was virtually no chance of Seager taking a qualifying offer that would guarantee only his 2022 salary, there was a slim chance that Taylor, 31, might accept an offer that would more than double his $7.8-million salary from 2021.
But Taylor’s profile rose during an All-Star season in which he hit .254 with a .782 OPS, 20 homers, 25 doubles and 73 RBIs in 148 games and played proficient defense at six positions.
Though he struggled in the second half, Taylor hit a walk-off homer in the National League wild card win over St. Louis and hit three homers in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, further boosting his stock and putting him in line for a lucrative multiyear deal.
Andrew Heaney hopes he can pull a Robbie Ray and go from castoff to AL Cy Young contender. The Dodgers are hoping for the same.
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