9:46pm: A source tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that the Nats are “heavily involved” and are making a “legit” effort to sign the young outfielder. He adds, interestingly, that Taylor “would become expendable” if a deal is struck.
From an analytical perspective, it seems plenty plausible that the team could add Heyward (or another outfielder) and keep Taylor. For one thing, there’s plenty of justification to give him further developmental time at Triple-A. For another, he’d still be an important depth piece in the near term and would have plenty of possibilities for increased playing time with the clock ticking on Werth’s contract (and perhaps also his time as a full-time regular).
7:24pm: Washington is a “serious threat” to land Heyward, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter.
3:45pm: The Nationals are the “mystery team” pursuing free agent outfielder Jason Heyward, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. They are joined in the chase for Heyward by the Cubs and Cardinals, per the report.
It’s not known which of those clubs — if not another — is in the lead, but Heyman adds in another tweet that Heyward has at least one offer at or over $200MM on the table. That’s not exactly surprising, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted Heyward would reach the double-century mark, but does appear to suggest that he’ll be in position to maximize his potential market value.
Heyward’s youth and broad skillset make him a tantalizing target even for clubs that otherwise seem set in the outfield, as I explained in breaking down Heyward’s free agent case in late October. He’s a very good, but not great, hitter who has never returned to the power ceiling he showed earlier in his career. But he’s at the top of the class in basically every other area.
It’s possible that Washington would utilize Heyward in center field were he to land there, Heyman suggests. While the team has youngster Michael A. Taylor lined up to take over there, he’s still raw. It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that veteran Jayson Werth has only two years left on his deal and could ultimately stand to receive added rest given his nagging injuries over the years. While trades could be considered in the wake of a signing, it’s also possible to imagine Heyward splitting his time up the middle and in the corner for some time as the teams waits to see what happens with its other options.