After a poor 2018 season and ominous arbitration hearing, it looks as though Michael Taylor could have his days with the Washington Nationals numbered.
Coming off of a breakout 2017 season, Michael Taylor was hoping that he could replicate that form as the Washington Nationals‘ starting centerfielder. 12 months on from that, it looks as though the outfielder’s days in D.C. could be numbered.
The latest sign of friction between the sides came to head recently when the Nationals and Taylor went to an arbitration hearing. Taylor wanted $3.5 million and the Nats wanted to pay him $3.25 million. Washington won the hearing, but these things are rarely ever pretty.
The player has to hear the team bring them down as they squabble over the difference in salary. But according to TalkNats, Taylor was offered a compromise between the two values and rejected it, so heading to arbitration could be a signal that he wants out.
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There was some controversy midseason last year when Taylor was in a groove at the plate, but he made way for Adam Eaton once the latter returned from injury. Some Nats fans were irate that Taylor was riding the pine while Bryce Harper continued to see time in centerfield and perhaps Taylor felt the same way.
However, at that point, it was more beneficial for the team to play Harper as he was the player more likely to carry the team through the season. Taylor is once again in a similar situation again heading into 2019 with Victor Robles seemingly set to take over in center field full-time, leaving the veteran as the fourth outfielder again on the team.
Currently, in his career, he owns an underwhelming .239/.293/.395 slash line to go with 47 home runs and 71 stolen bases. But it’s his plate discipline holding him back as he has an alarming 31.4 percent strikeout percentage in his career compared to just a 6.8 walk percentage.
Yes, Taylor does play elite defense in centerfield, but he just doesn’t do enough with the bat to warrant a regular spot on a team that’s loaded in the outfield. So if he wants to play regularly, he’ll have to play elsewhere, which seems to be his desire.
One interesting wrinkle about receiving a salary after an arbitration hearing is that it is not fully guaranteed. This means that the Nationals can release him outright during Spring Training and it would only count for around $500,000 against the luxury tax calculation. However, it’s unlikely to get to that point, given that Taylor does still have trade value.
The Nationals could look to trade Taylor in favor of rolling with Andrew Stevenson and Howie Kendrick as backup outfielders. Both are slightly more accomplished off the bench, while Stevenson is considered a well above average glove in the outfield. We’ll have to see what transpires.
Unfortunately, Michael Taylor faces a significant uphill battle to regain regular playing time with the Washington Nationals.