One of the best stories from the Nats’ 2017 season was the emergence of Michael Taylor. He received an opportunity to play everyday after Adam Eaton suffered a season-ending injury, and he did took full advantage of it.
Eaton will return this year, but Taylor’s spot remains open due to the likely departure of Jayson Werth. While Taylor appeared to finally be tapping into his potential in 2017, there is no guarantee that he will have similar success in 2018. He struggled for years, so it is not completely unwarranted to wonder if he can repeat his success.
If Taylor regresses, the Nats may look to acquire another outfielder at the trade deadline. 2018 figures to be a fateful season for the Nats, and they should be all-in to win it all. If the Nats are in the market for an outfielder, Hunter Pence is a name to watch.
Pence is coming off of a bit of a down year by his standards, but he still hit .260 in 2017. That’s not too shabby, especially in what was supposedly a down year.
Now, Pence is a big part of what could potentially be an exciting year for the Giants. They have acquired Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen this off-season in an effort to go on one last run with their aging core.
However, if their strategy of adding veterans to an already-aging core does not work, they may become sellers at the trade deadline. Pence would be an obvious candidate to be traded, considering 2018 is his final season under team control.
If Pence is on the block, he could be a solid fit with the Nats. Acquiring Pence would require the Nats to move Eaton back to center field, but that should not be an issue.
With the Nats, Pence could join forces with Eaton and Bryce Harper to form one of the best outfield trios in the league. He could also serve as a bridge to Victor Robles, since Robles is not expected to be ready for an everyday role until 2019.
Finally, Pence would provide a plethora of postseason experience. He has hit .254 in 43 postseason games throughout his career, en route to becoming a two-time World Series champion. Perhaps this could allow the Nats to finally exorcise their postseason demons.
Although Pence is past his prime, he could be an excellent addition for the stretch run and postseason. It is a bit unorthodox, but he is certainly worth considering.