Michael Taylor seemed destined for a bench role once the Nationals acquired Ben Revere from the Blue Jays in January. Defending National League MVP Bryce Harper has claim to right field and $126 million man Jayson Werth, finally healthy, would handle left field.
But Taylor has had a very productive spring, batting .485 with three doubles, three home runs, and three stolen bases across 33 at-bats. He’s caught the eye of manager Dusty Baker, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and he might force the Nationals to make room for him.
Werth, of course, is nearly untradeable as he turns 37 years old in May, played in only 88 games with yet more injuries last season, and is owed $42 million total through 2017. And Harper isn’t going anywhere, at least not until the 2018 season. The Nationals’ best option, if they intend to give Taylor a shot, seems to be platooning Werth and Revere in left field and putting Taylor in right.
Taylor, 25 on Saturday, posted a meager .640 OPS in 511 plate appearances last season, but he entered the year rated as baseball’s 32nd-best prospect according to Baseball America. He plays strong defense, runs the bases well, and can develop into a major league-capable hitter. The Nationals, however, may not want to afford Taylor more time for growing pains as they attempt to dethrone the Mets in the National League East.
It’s an interesting situation to watch, as spring training is suddenly close to finishing.