Michael A. Taylor’s peaks-and-valley-filled time with the Nationals came to an end when he cleared waivers and was granted free agency on Oct. 15. The move produced the second line in his player transaction history: the Nationals drafted him June 9, 2009, and he remained with the organization until this October.
Taylor is now part of the Royals. He signed a one-year deal reportedly worth $1.75 million with $1 million in incentives on Monday.
Kansas City receives Taylor entering his age-30 season after he played parts of seven seasons with the Nationals. His defense -- most of the time -- remains among the best in baseball. His inability to reach base is another consistent, much less appealing, marker. His career OPS is .686.
The Nationals decided they were better off going forward with Andrew Stevenson as their fourth outfielder at a lower rate. Stevenson played well in both 2019 and 2020, appearing to settle into a part-time role with the major-league club. Moving on from Taylor was made easier by Stevenson’s progress.
Taylor’s 2017 season suggested the apparent physical tools he possesses were coalescing into a quality major-league player. He finished the year with an .806 OPS and 19 home runs in 399 at-bats. However, Taylor was never able to replicate the results or put his swing in a consistent place.
Two events show the fluctuations of Taylor’s time with the Nationals: One is when a ground ball into center field at Dodger Stadium went by him resulting in a game-winning, inside-the-park home run on June 22, 2016.
“Very shocking,” a stoic Taylor told reporters afterward.
Taylor was also 0-for-5 with five strikeouts that day.
The flip side is his 2017 grand slam at Wrigley Field during Game 4 of the National League Division Series and the Nationals facing elimination. The Nationals won, 5-0. For all of his regular-season struggles, Taylor was able to excel in the postseason. He moves on to Kansas City with a 1.027 postseason OPS and departs as one of the longest-tenured players in the organization's history. Only Ryan Zimmerman has been part of the Nationals longer.