If the San Francisco Giants find themselves in the market for a center fielder this offseason, keep an eye on Michael Taylor of the Washington Nationals.
The first big decision facing the San Francisco Giants this offseason, aside from their ongoing managerial search, will be whether to tender a contract to Kevin Pillar.
While the decision might seem like a no-brainer after he led the team in hits (157), doubles (37), RBI (87), runs scored (82) and steals (14) while tying for the team lead in home runs (21), it is far from a foregone conclusion that he will return in 2020.
The 30-year-old earned a reasonable $5.8 million in 2019, but his salary is projected to spike to $9.7 million in his final year of arbitration.
The counting numbers mentioned above were great, but he also posted a brutal .293 on-base percentage and was a 1.4 WAR player when all was said and done.
It would likely be met with more than a few groans from the fan base, but don’t be surprised if Pillar is non-tendered.
If that is the decision that Farhan Zaidi and Co. wind up making, the Giants will be in the market for a new center fielder.
In-house option Steven Duggar failed to establish himself when given a golden opportunity, and top prospect Heliot Ramos is probably still a year away.
So who would make sense as a potential target in center field?
Washington Nationals outfielder Michael Taylor could be the perfect target.
The 28-year-old is projected for a far more modest $3.25 million salary in what will also be his final year of arbitration eligibility, so he would be a short-term solution to help bridge the gap to Ramos.
With Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Adam Eaton entrenched as the starting outfielders for the Nationals, the front office might prefer a cheaper fourth outfielder ahead of their push to re-sign All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon.
In other words, it shouldn’t cost much more than a flier prospect or two to acquire Taylor, who could ultimately be a non-tender casualty himself if the Nationals don’t find a trade partner.
While his production has been modest the past two seasons, due in part to injuries, Taylor is not far removed from an excellent 2017 season where he hit .271/.320/.486 with 19 home runs and 17 steals in a 2.4 WAR season.
He has also been a standout defender in center field when healthy, racking up 18 Defensive Runs Saved at the position in 2017 and 2018, prior to his injury-shortened campaign in 2019.
First things first, the San Francisco Giants need to make a decision on Kevin Pillar’s future. If they decide to cut him loose, Michael Taylor should be at the top of their list of potential replacements.