Projected arbitration salary: $1,300,000
Out of all the veteran relievers optioned to Triple-A Omaha to start this season, Josh Taylor had the best season of all of them. That is not saying much though. Philosopher Michael Scott once said, "The only time I set that bar low is for limbo." Well, that group set the bar even lower.
The Red Sox sent Taylor to the Royals in exchange for former top prospect, shortstop Adalberto Mondesi. Like this list, Mondesi was set to see a raise in arbitration and the Royals likely did not see his worth and jettisoned the maligned infielder. It is hard to believe that the Royals likely won this trade, as Mondesi did not play an inning for the Red Sox in 2023.
Once Taylor made his Royals debut, he was a pleasant surprise. He had some meltdown performances, such as a three-run inning surrendered to the Baltimore Orioles on May 2 or the subsequent two-run inning against the Oakland Athletics three days later. But he struck out batters at a great pace in his first 15 games, fanning 34% of opposing batters. He still walked 11% of batters, but it was a great tradeoff for him throwing 65% of his pitches for strikes.
When a pitcher suddenly struggles, it usually signals the worst. Taylor had back-to-back multi-run outings in late May. His fastball lost velocity, his location was not as sharp, and Taylor just did not look like himself. He made his last appearance for the Royals on May 27. Kansas City placed him on the 15-day IL the next day, citing left shoulder impingement. A month later, MLB.com's Anne Rogers reported that Taylor needed surgery on his lower back.
That is the last that we have heard of Taylor. Ne rehab, no bullpens, nothing. Taylor missed all of 2022 with a lower back strain, making the surgery and his limited availability over two seasons a major concern. I am not opposed to the Royals re-signing him to a minor-league deal, but paying him arbitration money seems like a sizeable gamble with little payoff.