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Michael A. Taylor Rumors
AUG. 28: Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports (on Twitter) that Span is set to undergo season-ending hip surgery next Tuesday. The issue is in his hip labrum, manager Matt Williams tells reporters including Mark Zuckerman of Comcast SportsNet (Twitter link).
AUG. 27: Nationals center fielder Denard Span is headed back to the disabled list with inflammation in his left hip, and as Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington writes, this most recent injury may very well bring his season to a close.
This will be Span’s third and seemingly final trip to the disabled list in 2015 — an unfortunate series of events for any player, but particularly for Span, who is eligible for free agency for the first time at season’s end. If his season is indeed done, injuries will have limited the 31-year-old to just 61 games. Of course, his production in those 61 games has been excellent; Span has totaled a .301/.365/.431 batting line with five homers and 11 stolen bases.
Defensive metrics were down on Span in 2015, though injuries may have played a part in his deteriorated rankings, as Span does come with a reputation as a plus defender in center field. After beginning the season on the disabled list due to offseason core muscle surgery, Span again landed on the disabled list in early July due to back spasms. He returned from the DL just three days ago, but his stay on the active roster will be a brief one. As Zuckerman writes, the string of injuries were very likely related to one another.
Manager Matt Williams told Zuckerman and other reporters that while it’s not clear if Span will return in 2015, he would “imagine it’s going to be very tough for him to get back.” The loss of Span, of course, further dampens the playoff hopes of what has been a disappointing Nationals club in 2015. Though Washington emerged victorious tonight, so too did the division-leading Mets. Picked by most (myself included) to win the division, the Nationals instead trail the Mets by 6.5 games and are an even more distant nine games back in the NL Wild Card race.
Compounding matters for the Nationals is the fact that rookie outfielder Michael Taylor — Span’s likely replacement — left tonight’s game with a knee injury suffered when crashing into the outfield wall. It’s not known how long Taylor will be sidelined, but Zuckerman notes that center fielder Matt den Dekker, who would’ve been a September call-up anyhow, will presumably be called up as a corresponding move to replace Span.
The Nationals have kept a low profile this winter, per MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker. GM Mike Rizzo has yet to sign a free agent to a MLB contract preferring minor league deals for veterans like Dan Uggla, Heath Bell, and Ian Stewart while netting Joe Ross and Trea Turner for being the third team in the Wil Myers trade. Here’s the latest on the Nationals’ offseason, courtesy of MLB.com’s Bill Ladson:
- By trading Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals would be able to replenish their farm system and add a couple of veterans.
- Ladson opines the Nationals will trade for a second baseman before the start of Spring Training (listing Ben Zobrist as a possibility) because Danny Espinosa is too inconsistent offensively, Kevin Frandsen is not seen as a starter by manager Matt Williams, and the team does not want to rush prospect Wilmer Difo.
- Tyler Moore must have a great Spring Training to make the club coming off the bench. If not, the 28-year-old (next month) first baseman becomes a trade candidate because he is out of options.
- With Denard Span scheduled to hit free agency after the 2015 season, Michael A. Taylor could be the everyday center fielder in 2016, but the Nationals will need to find a leadoff hitter and may have to settle for Jayson Werth.
- Top prospect Lucas Giolito is not a rotation candidate, if Zimmermann or Doug Fister is traded. The 16th overall selection in the 2012 draft should begin the season in Double-A and could be a September callup.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo tells Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post that he was comfortable trading Steven Souza to the Rays because top outfield prospect Michael A. Taylor is only about a half a year behind Souza in terms of development. Taylor’s development has taken on greater importance now that Souza is gone, Janes notes, as he’s now the most big-league ready of their outfield prospects. Director of player development Mark Scialabba tells Janes that the team was happy with Taylor’s progress in 2014 and believes he can help in the Majors in 2015, but he also acknowledged that Taylor’s plate discipline is a work in progress. Taylor’s development is of particular importance, in my mind, due to his ability to handle center field; Denard Span is a free agent in one year’s time, and the Nats may not be able to retain him, Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Tyler Clippard — each of whom is in their final year of team control.
More from the NL East…
- Though the Marlins have an exceptional young outfield in Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton, the club is still on the lookout for a fourth outfielder, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Ideally, Morosi notes, they’d acquire someone who can handle center field to back up Ozuna. The free agent market has little to offer in terms of center fielders who saw significant time in the Majors last year, though the trade market has some options. The Padres have a number of outfielders that can play center field (Will Venable, Abraham Almonte and Cameron Maybin), Oakland’s Craig Gentry is an excellent defender, and the Cardinals’ Peter Bourjos is elite with the glove as well. One buy-low option on the free agent market could be Franklin Gutierrez, though his health issues are significant and he didn’t take the field in 2014. All of those names are my own speculation.
- Dan Haren is said to be holding out hope that the Marlins will trade him to either the Angels or the Padres, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The veteran Haren, acquired in the trade that also sent Dee Gordon to Miami, has a very strong, well-known desire to be on the West coast near his wife and children in Los Angeles.
- Meeting the Rockies’ asking price for Troy Tulowitzki doesn’t make sense for the Mets given Tulo’s health concerns, writes Newsday’s David Lennon. The Rox are set on multiple pitching prospects in return and haven’t shown any indication that they’re willing to eat a significant amount of cash. Lennon assumes the Rockies would need to eat a similar a percentage of the contract as the Dodgers did when moving Matt Kemp, which would come out to roughly $36MM.
- MLB.com’s Mark Bowman feels that if the Braves do still move Evan Gattis in a trade, they’ll attempt to land a starting pitcher or outfielder that can step into the Majors in short order and has a good deal of team control remaining. Of course, Gattis himself fits the description of an outfield option with team control remaining, though it’s certainly possible the Braves would prefer a better defender with a different skill set. As Bowman notes, the Braves have made a conscious effort to infuse their system with more speed- and contact-oriented players. Bowman also touches on the Braves’ bullpen and the money they’ve saved this offseason in his latest Braves Inbox.
The Nationals will promote top prospect Michael Taylor today, a source tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. The 23-year-old, previously known more for his bat than his glove, has risen quickly through Double-A and Triple-A this season, hitting .315/.401/.547 with 22 homers and 35 stolen bases along the way. Outfielder Steven Souza was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder contusion to make room for Taylor. MLB.com ranked Taylor 72nd on the midseason edition of its Top 200 prospects list. Washington will have control of him through at least the 2019 season if he is in the Majors to stay.
Here are some more Sunday morning links from around the senior circuit…
- Michael Cuddyer is focused on getting healthy rather than proving himself to potential free agent suitors or to the Rockies in the season’s final weeks, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post. The 35-year-old, who is finishing up a three-year, $31.5MM contract, has been out since April with a broken bone in his left shoulder. Cuddyer elected to rehab at the lower levels of the minor leagues to strengthen his legs and to once again experience the camaraderie of that environment, he explains. His decision has not been taken for granted by the young players he’s encountered thus far, as Rockies 2014 first-rounder Forrest Wall has already picked Cuddyer’s brain about preparation for games and his approach at the plate. The Rockies would like to retain Cuddyer, though they aren’t sure at what price they’d be comfortable, Groke notes.
- The Dodgers seem resigned to the fact that Hanley Ramirez will be placed on the disabled list with an oblique injury, writes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. Ramirez has been determined to stay off the DL in his contract year, says Gurnick, but he’s still missed 25 starts with various injuries to this point. Ramirez ranked third on the most recent edition of MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, with his lack of durability being a primary reason for his fall from the top spot. A stint on the DL — which would be his fifth since the onset of the 2011 season — certainly won’t help his free agent stock.
- Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review spoke to Pedro Alvarez and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle about the possibility of Alvarez moving across the diamond to first base. Alvarez, whom Hurdle recently said had lost his starting job at third base, is open to the idea and called it a “no-brainer” rather than offer any negative comments about the move. It’d present the Bucs with an interesting logjam at first, however, as Alvarez ($4.25MM), Ike Davis ($3.5MM) and Gaby Sanchez ($2.3MM) are all due raises on their 2014 salaries via arbitration this winter. Price notes that Sanchez has begun working out over at third base.