Michael Taylor‘s Future
Building on the last point, Michael Taylor was one of the players most affected by all of the health problems of 2015. Entering the spring, Taylor seemed to be ticketed for Triple-A, with Denard Span the starter in center field. As Span and Jayson Werth struggled to stay on the field for large chunks of the season, Taylor was pressed into duty in a year where he would have been better off biding his time in the minors. While there were bright flashes of potential at the plate and in the field, Taylor’s rookie season was largely an uphill climb. He slashed .229/.282/.358 with 158 strikeouts in 138 games. Taylor did show some of the power that helped him hit 23 home runs in the minor leagues in 2014, but in general, he was abused by big-league pitchers.
Of all the players on the Nationals’ roster, Taylor has to feel the most confused entering the 2016 season. The Nationals pursued every big-name outfielder on the free-agent market this winter — Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Yoenis Cespedes — and landed none of them. Former closer Drew Storen was dealt for leadoff man Ben Revere, who should be the starting center fielder. Where does that all leave Taylor? The Nationals brass has said that it remains confident in Taylor’s abilities, but he is now out of the starting lineup for the upcoming season. Realistically, Taylor needed more time in the minors last year, and should have been slated to debut as a full-time starter this year. The early call-up may now hamper his development. Taylor still has great potential — possibly a 20-20 type of player — but a year spent on the bench will not help him develop. The best course of action for the Nationals is to send Taylor down to Triple-A and give him a full season of at-bats. With Werth’s health always in question, however, that may not be possible.