The Nationals are among the teams with interest in free-agent outfielder Angel Pagan, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports in his latest notes column. However, the Nationals and other interested parties are hoping to land Pagan on a minor league pact, Rosenthal notes.
That Pagan would potentially have to settle for a minors deal is somewhat of a surprise. Though age isn’t on his side, as he’ll turn 36 this July, Pagan is coming off a quite-productive season at the plate and remains a very viable option in left field — if not in center. Last season, the switch-hitter batted .277/.331/.418 with a career-high 12 home runs in 543 trips to the plate. He also provided above-average value on the bases (15-for-19 in stolen bases and, per Fangraphs, +1.9 runs overall) and was one of the game’s most difficult batters to strike out. Only 16 players whiffed at a rate lower than Pagan’s 12.2 percent in 2016.
Certainly, Pagan comes with some durability concerns. He’s been on the disabled list in each of the past four seasons and missed just under a month with a hamstring injury in 2016. However, after being limited to just 167 games between the 2013-14 seasons, he’s averaged 131 games and 547 plate appearances across the past two seasons.
The Nationals have a mostly full outfield, with Jayson Werth slated to roam left field, newly acquired Adam Eaton in center field and 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper in right field. Pagan could serve as a solid fourth outfielder that could spell Eaton from time to time and provide somewhat of a safety net for the oft-injured Jayson Werth. Chris Heisey is the team’s primary backup, and Adam Lind could see some occasional time in left field as well. Michael Taylor, too, is on hand as a potential option in the outfield, though the promise he once showed has yet to manifest in the Majors, and he’s coming off a dreadful 2016 season.
Per Rosenthal, Pagan also drew interest from the Blue Jays and the Royals earlier this winter, but those two teams have since inked Jose Bautista and Brandon Moss to respective contracts. Bautista’s deal with the Jays, though, hardly seems like it should entirely preclude Toronto from harboring continued interest in Pagan. The Blue Jays currently look poised to deploy a platoon of Ezequiel Carrera and Melvin Upton Jr. in left field, and it’s not difficult to argue that Pagan would be an upgrade over that pairing. Speculatively speaking, the Tigers and White Sox could each offer Pagan a fairly significant role in 2017, and a number of teams could consider Pagan an improvement over their current fourth outfielder.