Washington Nationals: Michael A. Taylor Trade Makes Sense
By The Jim Rat
I like Michael A. Taylor as much as the next person but it’s time for the Washington Nationals to trade him, and here are all of the reasons why
The Washington Nationals have entered spring training with very few roster spots up for grabs. The outfield, appears especially set, with Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Adam Eaton all returning as regular starters. Michael A. Taylor has his hooks locked into the fourth outfielder role after signing a one-year $3.325 million contract and avoiding arbitration with the Nationals during the offseason.
Taylor has spent time with the Nationals in each of the last six seasons. He is a career .240 hitter, serving primarily as a reserve and role player with the Nationals. Taylor’s best season came in 2017 when he hit .271 with 19 home runs while appearing in 118 games.
Taylor is a solid defensive center fielder with good range. He has a .990 fielding percentage at the Major League Level and 24 career outfield assists.
He played a key role in the Nationals run to the World Title in 2019. After Victor Robles was injured Taylor started several games in the postseason and had 7 hits in 21 at-bats through the NLDS, NLCS and World Series.
Taylor has been streaky at the Major League level, but has never been given a true opportunity to serve as an everyday player in the big leagues. While his $3.325 million contract isn’t going to break the bank, the Nationals are trying to remain under the luxury tax in 2020.
They Nats are currently estimated to be about $14 million under the tax, but an extra $3 million and change would provide them with additional financial flexibility. That type of room under the tax would make them competitive to bring in a big name rental option or a package of role players from teams who are sellers, as the trade deadline approaches.
Washington has an in-house option to serve as a fourth outfielder in Andrew Stevenson. Stevenson, 25, was actually more productive (in fewer opportunities) than Taylor in 2019. He hit .367 in 30 at-bats with the Nationals last season and was terrific as a pinch hitter batting .421 in limited action.
Stevenson had similar production in both double- and triple- A in 2019. He hit .316 with 7 homers and 13 stolen bases combined. He is a versatile defender and has good speed. He has played all three outfield positions professionally, spending most of his time in center- and left-field.
There is reason to believe that entering his age 26 season, Stevenson is ready to make the jump to the big leagues, and may actually be a preferred option over Michael A. Taylor.
The Nationals are in no rush to make a move. As mentioned, they are under the luxury tax and they like having roster depth as protection if anyone suffers injuries. Having said that, if the outfield is in good health toward the end of Spring Training, and the Stevenson outperforms Taylor, I will look for Washington to try and move Taylor’s contract.
Taylor is entering his age 29 season, and still has upside as an everyday player. A team like the San Francisco Giants would be a perfect match for his skill set.
The Giants center field options are umm, not terrific. Steven Duggar (no-known relationship to this Duggar family), is penciled in as the starting center fielder but his .278 OBP in 2019 leaves a lot to be desired. Taylor to the Giants for a low-level minor leaguer fills voids for everyone involved.
In San Fran, Taylor would have an opportunity to demonstrate his full potential as an everyday player. The Giants would get a strong contributor, who could serve as a leader on the club. Taylor has a great deal of experience in professional baseball and was a member of a World Series championship team. That leadership would be an excellent addition alongside players like Mike Yastrzemski, who had a breakout 2019 season.
The Nationals should wait to see how the spring plays out with roster health and Andrew Stevenson’s production. However, a Taylor to San Francisco trade would serve as a win-win-win for the Nationals, Giants and Taylor.
The Nats would get additional financial flexibility and an opportunity to see Andrew Stevenson as a member of the big league club. The Giants receive Taylor, filling a void in CF and adding a veteran who has not yet had the opportunities to demonstrate his full potential. And finally, for Michael A. Taylor, an opportunity that has missed him in Washington; the chance to play every day.