Washington Nationals Trade Target: Desmond Jennings
By Ricky Keeler
Even though the Nats’ offense appears set, they are reportedly looking at a couple of Rays’ outfielders
When the Washington Nationals lost the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes to their NL East rivals, the New York Mets, it was thought that the team was done with potential moves for the outfield. However, might the Nats still be looking for one more outfielder to add to the roster before spring training?
On Sunday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Nats were one of a few teams that were interested in trading for either Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer. The Rays recently acquired Corey Dickerson from the Rockies in a trade for Jake McGee, so they have depth in the outfield to deal from. Topkin also said the Angels, Cubs, and Royals have asked about both these outfielders.
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If I had to choose between two players, Jennings is the more intriguing player. Jennings just turned 29 in October and he is under team control for two more seasons. However, he is coming off of a year full of injuries. He played in just 28 games in 2015 and had a slash line of .268/.324/.340 with one home run, seven RBI’s, and five stolen bases. He was battling knee injuries and even had a tooth infection late in the season that required oral surgery.
Before last season, Jennings was a player known for stealing bases. He was sixth in the American League in stolen bases with 31 that season and he’s stolen at least 15 bases in four of the last five seasons. But, the Nationals did acquire a speed-oriented center fielder when they acquired Ben Revere from the Toronto Blue Jays for Drew Storen.
Jennings does have upside, but unless the Nationals are planning to deal Michael Taylor, which would be a mistake, he does not fit the Nats at this point. Plus, while Jennings didn’t strike out as much as Taylor did last season (158), he still has 100+ strikeouts in three of the last four years. The Nats are better off seeing what Taylor could do as a fourth outfielder than dealing for Jennings.
Out of the two players Topkin mentioned in his article, the Nats, in my opinion, would be better off trading for Brandon Guyer. Guyer, who is now 30 years old, can play all three outfield positions like Jennings, but he did have a .359 on-base percentage last season, which was tied with Logan Forsythe for the best .OBP on the Rays. He is under team control till 2019 and he had a .820 OPS in the second half of last season (.729 in the first half).