Nationals outfielder Michael A. Taylor has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee and hip, manager Dave Martinez tells reporters including Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Taylor is expected to “miss a significant amount of time,” per Martinez.
That’s rather unwelcome news for the Nats, who were slated to utilize Taylor quite often to spell the oft-injured Adam Eaton and youngster Victor Robles. With Howie Kendrick also still on the mend, the team now has a yawning gap in its bench mix.
Looking to the 40-man roster, the left-handed-hitting Andrew Stevenson is the only option. He has struggled at the plate in limited MLB opportunities and has not impressed in Grapefruit League action this spring. Hunter Jones is the only non-roster outfielder in camp. The 27-year-old had a nice season last year in the upper minors but has also not produced much offense in spring action. It’s also possible the team could trust Wilmer Difo with some innings on the grass, though he has little experience there and carries a light bat.
It stands to reason that the Nationals will consider outside options, though Taylor’s precise timeline will help dictate the approach. Veteran center fielder Austin Jackson remains unsigned and could potentially step into Taylor’s role. He’s nowhere near the fielder that Taylor is at this stage of his career — in fact, metrics graded him quite poorly last year — but is an amply experienced option who was a productive hitter as recently as 2017. Old friend Denard Span is also on the market, as is Carlos Gonzalez, though both players hit from the left side and neither would really present an option up the middle. The trade market may also present some possibilities, particularly as late-spring roster decisions are made.