Nats' outfield depth an offseason advantage

Rizzo confident in talent, but could make splash trade to boost area of need

November 16th, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Nationals are set to begin next season with a surplus of outfielders, something the team might be able to use to its advantage this offseason.

As it stands, Washington's starting outfield would consist of in right field, Michael A. Taylor in center and in left.

Behind those starters are , who is rated by as the No. 2 overall prospect and seems near Major League-ready, and , who took a huge step forward during his rookie season. Combine that with and , Washington's No. 7 and No. 13 prospects, respectively, and the outfield becomes perhaps the strongest position of depth in the organization.

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"We think we're in a good position," general manager Mike Rizzo said at the General Managers Meetings this week. "We've got guys at the Major League level now and guys who are a year or two away that could all impact the big leagues in the future."

The Nationals also have some enticing players who they might be able to package in a trade if Rizzo wants to make a splash this offseason.

Eaton and Harper have virtually no chance of being traded. However, Taylor had already drawn trade interest through the years before his breakout season in 2017. Perhaps he or one of the Nationals' young Minor League outfielders could be the centerpiece for an offseason move.

Robles would be the player to garner the most return, but he also seems unlikely to be traded. He is on track to break into the Nationals' starting outfield sooner rather than later.

"He's going to play every day somewhere," Rizzo said. "Be it at the big league level or Triple-A level. He's got to get repetitions, and I think that's the most important thing for him."

Even though the Nationals have depth in the outfield, Rizzo said he would not yet rule out a possible reunion with free agent , though it seems unlikely. Werth, who turns 39 in May, would almost certainly have to return to the Nats in a reduced role with reduced pay.

"We haven't really discussed that or gone down that road yet, but I wouldn't close the door on it," Rizzo said.

The Nationals have options in the outfield, and that gives them flexibility. They needed 12 outfielders to get through last season, so they might want to keep their outfield crowded to have plenty of good options available. Or perhaps Rizzo can take advantage of the talent he has in the outfield and use it to improve another area of the team.