Washington Nationals: Will Michael Taylor be traded?

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Michael A. Taylor
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Michael A. Taylor /

Washington Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor enjoyed a tremendous breakout season in 2017. Could the Nats sell high on him this off-season?

For the last few years, Michael Taylor has served as a depth outfielder for the Washington Nationals. Due to a myriad of injuries suffered by outfielders, he has received quite a few opportunities to play everyday and prove himself over the years.

Unfortunately, Taylor always struggled and could never quite tap into the potential that everyone believed he had. That is, until 2017.

The Nats acquired Adam Eaton prior to the 2017 season, and had plans for him to be their starting center fielder, but he suffered a season-ending leg injury in late-April. With Eaton out for the year, Taylor received what would possibly be his final opportunity.

This time, Taylor took full advantage of it. In 118 games, he owned a slash line of .271/.320/.486 to go with 19 homers and 17 stolen bases. He also played excellent defense in center field, leading to him being named a Gold Glove Award finalist.

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After a great regular season, Taylor had an even better postseason. Throughout the National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs, he was arguably the Nats’ best position player. In five games, he hit .333 with two homers and eight RBI’s.

Now, Taylor is presumably the Nats’ starting center fielder for 2018. However, there are talks of the Nats possibly selling high on him and trading him after his breakout season.

Considering the Nats’ surplus of outfielders, Taylor getting traded is a legitimate possibility. Eaton and Bryce Harper are just about guaranteed to start, but Brian Goodwin, Victor Robles, Andrew Stevenson, and Rafael Bautista are all also on the 40-man roster.

2018 appears to be an enormous season for the Nats, and they must put themselves in a position to win it all. However, they currently have a few holes, mainly in the starting rotation and bullpen.

The Nats may need to make a few trades to fill these holes, and Taylor is undoubtedly their top trade chip. Mike Rizzo will do whatever it takes to win, and if that includes trading Taylor, then so be it.

If the Nats do trade Taylor, it is not the end of the world. He has quickly become a fan favorite, but he might be most valuable to the Nats as a trade chip. He certainly had a phenomenal 2017 season, but he had never performed that well before 2017. For all we know, he may have peaked.

The Nats’ outfield is also one of their biggest strengths. Obviously, Harper and Eaton are tremendous players, but the Nats’ supporting cast of outfielders are also strong.

Goodwin had a similar breakout season in 2017, and appears ready to fill an everyday role as well. The Nats also have Robles, the second-best prospect in the league, who is very close to being a major leaguer. He made the postseason roster after an impressive cup of coffee in 2017, and is an enormous part of the Nats’ future plans.

Stevenson and Bautista are also solid prospects, and filled in admirably in 2017. The Nats have several capable outfielders, and that is not even mentioning the Nats’ second-best prospect, 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto.

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While many fans would hate to see Taylor go, he is currently the Nats’ top trade chip and is somewhat expendable. It is not a guarantee, but he could certainly be traded this off-season.