Washington Nationals: Michael Taylor Should Start or Get Traded
By Grant Thomas
After Michael Taylor went 4-for-4 yesterday, its time for the Washington Nationals to make a decision
Yesterday, in the Washington Nationals 6-3 loss to the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park, there was one positive surrounding the afternoon and that was the play of center fielder Michael Taylor.
Michael Taylor’s talent is deceiving.
It’s there. There’s no denying that. But while it’s all well and good to have potential, actually meeting it is what creates value in the major leagues. Every now and again, Taylor will have a fantastic game that resets the organization’s confidence in his ability.
Take yesterday, for instance; after hitting just .224 in 161 at-bats before the Nats 6-3 loss, Taylor went 4-for-4 with two home runs and a double. His playing time will surely increase in the near future. To say this was his only noteworthy game in a while wouldn’t be fair. He went 3-for-5 with a double on June 11 against the Phillies and 2-for-5 with two RBI’s on June 7 against the White Sox.
Sadly, that’s about it for Taylor. He has great speed and fielding ability, but the bat hasn’t and won’t be there. The current platoon role with Ben Revere is only there due to Revere’s extended slump since the start of the year. Otherwise, he would be a regular backup. If he is a backup, his .263 on-base percentage wouldn’t be acceptable.
The excess playing time he received last year was a result of Denard Span‘s injury bug, and he didn’t necessarily impress then either; a .229/.282/.358 slash line in 478 at-bats is simply not good enough for a starting role.
So. its about time for the Washington Nationals to make a decision. They should either start him and hope his bat wakes up, or trade him.
If Revere begins to play well, the decision to trade Taylor becomes much easier. There are quite a few teams out there looking for a relatively young (25 years old) and athletic outfielder with fielding ability and speed.
The Washington Nationals have a crop of outfield prospects waiting in the minors (Andrew Stevenson, Victor Robles, Brian Goodwin, and Rafael Bautista). While none of them are close to the major leagues, it’s not as if Taylor is Washington’s only young-ish outfielder with any upside.
It’s no secret that the Washington Nationals will need to add another premier bullpen arm before the postseason begins, and Taylor would be a valuable part of a package. Washington would be hesitant to trade top infield prospect Trea Turner, and it would be very tough to part with more than one top pitching prospect for a bullpen arm.
Lucas Giolito, the top pitching prospect in baseball, is off the table; Reynaldo Lopez, a fast-rising fire thrower who regularly touches triple digits with his fastball is also off the table. One of A.J. Cole/Austin Voth/Jefry Rodriguez is a better possibility, but two would be risky.
Taylor/Cole-Voth-Rodriguez/another added piece. This is a great package for a solid reliever at the trade deadline. While it might not be enough for an Andrew Miller-type (the Nats would have to stretch the package a little bit more for that), that proposal will work for most.
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If Taylor keeps having these 4-for-4 power showings every once in a while, he will become even more intriguing to dangle in trade talks. But right now, even with Revere’s struggles, he is of little use to the Washington Nationals future plans.