Washington Nationals: Could Brian Goodwin be traded?

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Brian Goodwin /

The Washington Nationals have a surplus of outfielders, including several without defined roles. Will Brian Goodwin be the fourth outfielder, or could he be traded instead?

Behind pitching, the Washington Nationals‘ biggest strength may be their outfield corps. For starters, Bryce Harper is among the best players in the league. While Harper is outstanding, he is far from being the Nats’ only great outfielder.

Last season, Adam Eaton got off to a phenomenal start before suffering a season-ending torn ACL. Now, he is back.

Michael Taylor stepped up in Eaton’s absence, establishing himself as a tremendous center fielder. He was a gold glove finalist and should lock things down in center once again.

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Then, there’s Victor Robles. The Nats’ top prospect played very well during his cup of coffee last September, even earning a spot on the postseason roster. He is off to a great start this spring, and could possibly play his way into a starting role a year ahead of schedule.

The Nats have several great outfielders, which leaves Brian Goodwin as the odd man out. The former first-round pick took a while to reach the majors, but finally put it all together in 2017.

Goodwin, a 27-year-old outfielder, hit .251 with 13 homers and six stolen bases in 74 games with the Nats in 2017. He started the year in the minors, but played well when needed in the bigs. Various injuries gave him an opportunity to prove himself, which he took full advantage of.

Now, despite his impressive 2017 campaign, there is not a starting spot open for Goodwin. There likely will not be one for a while either.

If Taylor regresses in 2018, Robles will likely take his spot. If Taylor continues to play well, Robles could take Harper’s spot if he departs in free agency next year. Because of this, Goodwin has to hope that Taylor regresses and Harper leaves next year. Then, he can battle Andrew Stevenson for a spot.

The Nats have a very crowded outfield, which means Goodwin’s biggest role with the team may be as a fourth outfielder. Unfortunately for Goodwin, he is an outfielder capable of starting without an available starting job.

While Goodwin likely will not be an Opening Day starter, he will find plenty of playing time as the fourth outfielder. Eaton and Harper have both battled injuries in the past. Eaton, especially, may need additional off-days this year, since he is coming off of the knee surgery.

Even if all three starting outfielders remain healthy all year, which is highly unlikely, Goodwin will have opportunities to spell each of them. He is capable of playing all three outfield positions, which will give him additional opportunities to find playing time.

Or, the Nats could elect to trade Goodwin. There’s plenty of teams that would love to have a relatively young, controllable outfielder. After all, he’s under team control through 2022.

The Nats’ surplus of outfielders allows them to trade Goodwin and still be set in the outfield. In this case, though, they would likely need Stevenson or Rafael Bautista to serve as the fourth outfielder. They have stated multiple times that Robles will be playing everyday, regardless of where he’s playing, so he is not a candidate to be the fourth outfielder.

Bautista is unproven at the major-league level and Stevenson would benefit from playing everyday in Triple-A, which leaves Goodwin as the most qualified fourth outfielder.

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All things considered, the Nats would be wise to hold on to Goodwin. He may be discouraged by the logjam of outfielders, but he will undoubtedly receive plenty of playing time. What he does with his playing time is up to him.