Few things are as unpredictable as Spring Training baseball. Just when you think everything is set in stone and a team is ready to go for the regular season, injuries can change the course for a ball club without a moment’s notice. That’s exactly what has happened to the Washington Nationals
Before Spring Training, the Nationals’ Opening Day roster was all but set. With the exception of maybe a spot or two on the bench and a few empty seats in the ‘pen, the Nationals weren’t expected to have many open competitions for a spot on the roster this spring. Injuries, of course, changed everything.
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Jason Werth had shoulder surgery earlier this offseason and could miss the start of the season. Within the first few weeks of Spring Training, Denard Span and Yunel Escobar went down with injuries of their own, and Span will likely miss at least a month of the regular season. And now, with Opening day just two weeks away, outfielder Nate McLouth is out with an ailing right shoulder and he too could miss the start of the season.
With all of these injuries having the potential to alter the Nationals’ Opening Day roster, you would think the team would be wise to hold on to all other additional pieces that may help them overcome their early-season injuries. Apparently, the Nationals might be willing to do the opposite.
According to Fox Sports’s Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals are willing to trade outfielder Tyler Moore if the right deal presents itself. As Rosenthal notes, there are several teams who might be interested in acquiring Moore (who is out of options), such as the San Francisco Giants.
Here’s what Rosenthal had to say about Moore:
"Moore, 28, would seem unlikely to be traded, considering that Nationals outfielders Jayson Werth (shoulder), Nate McLouth (shoulder) and Denard Span (abdomen) all could start the season on the disabled list.The Nationals, however, would trade Moore if a deal made sense, according to major-league sources. They obviously would not give Moore away — they view him as an average to above-average major leaguer based on his minor-league numbers and projections, sources said. They also know that Moore represents insurance for first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who appeared in only 61 games last season due to thumb and hamstring injuries."
A few weeks ago, I would’ve been completely open to the idea of trading Moore. The outfielder doesn’t really fit into the Nationals’ long-term plans, and if he put on a good performance this spring, he could net the team a solid return on the trade market. But given Washington’s current injury situation, trading Moore this spring would be a mistake.
As Rosenthal notes, the Nationals could not only use Moore in the outfield while Span, Werth and McLouth are out, but he’s also the best option the team has at first base in case the oft-injured Ryan Zimmerman were to land on the disabled list.
Yes, McLouth has struggled at the big league level with the Nationals over the last few years. But right now, the team doesn’t have a wealth of backup players to fill in on an everyday basis while the team’s starters miss an extended amount of time. Furthermore, Moore has proven time and time again that all he needs to succeed is consistent playing time, and the injuries in the outfield might give him a chance to play everyday early in the season.
Along with the potential benefits of more playing time, Moore also appears to be poised for a good season. Moore played Winter Ball this offseason to help get him ready for the season, and it appears to have paid off as the infielder/outfielder is hitting .353 with one home run and eight RBIs this spring. While Spring Training statistics aren’t necessarily indicators of how a player will perform once the games actually start to count, his success this spring, in my opinion, is just another reason why the Nationals should keep him on board going into the regular season.
Moore could also help the team down the road, not just in 2015. The 28-year-old is under team control until 2019, and with Span set to hit free agency next offseason, Moore could turn a successful 2015 campaign into a bid for an everyday job in the outfield next season (assuming the Nationals would be willing to play Bryce Harper in center, which isn’t a guarantee). Is it likely that Moore will be a key player for the Nationals down the road? Probably not. But is it impossible? Of course not. One thing’s for certain, we’ll never find out what he may be able to bring to the team if they trade him in the next two weeks.
Despite the injuries, the Nationals are still expected to be one of the best teams in baseball this season. But with several players already out for at least a good chunk of the remainder of Spring Training, the beginning of the season will be a major challenge for the ball club and they’ll need strong backup players to help keep the team afloat until the starters return. Tyler Moore is one of those players that the Nationals need, and they would be wise to keep him on board going into the regular season.