Washington Nationals: Predicting the Opening Day roster after latest cuts

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Outfielders

Obviously, the Nats’ most recognizable outfielder is Bryce Harper. The 25-year-old superstar is arguably the most recognizable player in baseball, and the Nats are lucky to have him.

While Harper gets all of the attention, which will be even more exaggerated in 2018 due to his impending free agency, he is far from being the Nats’ only great outfielder.

Last offseason, in a controversial trade, the Nats acquired Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox. They had to part with three of their top pitching prospects, but acquiring Eaton was worth it.

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Throughout April, Eaton was among the best players in the league. He and Turner formed a dynamic duo at the top of the lineup, and Eaton quickly became a fan favorite.

Unfortunately, Eaton’s season ended just as he got settled in DC. Towards the end of April, he suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Now, Eaton is back and ready to set the table for the Nats.

Although Eaton was held back for most of the spring, being limited to minor league games, he has made quite the impression. Upon returning to major league camp, he has gone 5-for-13 with a homer, two RBI, and two runs scored.

There were some questions about how Eaton’s knee was holding up, but he has put them all to rest with his fantastic all-around play.

Rounding out the outfield is Michael Taylor, who got an opportunity to prove himself in Eaton’s absence last year.

Taylor, a 26-year-old outfielder, has always been a great defender. His bat, on the other hand, was another story. However, he finally figured it all out in what was likely his final opportunity last year.

In 118 games, Taylor slashed .271/.320/.486 with 19 homers and 17 stolen bases. In addition to falling just short of a 20/20 season, he was named a Gold Glove Award finalist.

Not too shabby for a guy who barely made the Opening Day roster.

This time around, Taylor’s outlook is much different. Last year, he had to prove that he belonged in the majors. Now, he is a legitimate contender to join the 20/20 club and win a Gold Glove Award. He is often overlooked in the Nats’ crowded outfield, but he is a force to be reckoned with.

Finally, Brian Goodwin will serve as the Nats’ fourth outfielder. He is not as flashy as the three starters, but he is a terrific fourth outfielder and could start on most teams.

Last year, Goodwin slashed .251/.313/.498 with 13 homers and six stolen bases in 74 games. For a fourth outfielder, these are great numbers.

Goodwin does not have a clear path to becoming a starter, but he will get plenty of reps while filling in for an injured outfielder or just giving someone a day off.

Next: Andrew Stevenson impressing this spring

The Nats’ outfield, like the rest of the team, is an enormous strength. If the Nats are able to stay healthy, which has been a big if in the past, they are capable of winning 100 games.

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