During the Houston Astros broadcast yesterday, they said that it would be Michael Taylor‘s job to lose in centerfield for the Nationals intimating that Victor Robles would be on the outside looking in. Many Nationals prognosticators think that is rubbish and believe Robles will be starting in the middle of the outfield on Opening Day. Well, not so fast even though general manager Mike Rizzo seemed to indicate that his starting outfield was Juan Soto, Robles, and Adam Eaton.
Manager Dave Martinez must like the realm of possibilities of having two great defensive centerfielders in his camp, and you would think the better offensive player should be the starter. But how do you determine the best offensive player during Spring Training where good results are often Fool’s Gold?
“Here’s the deal with both of those guys as we move along —we need them both,” Martinez said. “They’re both going to play. Michael’s doing very well. And Victor’s doing well. I’d like to see Victor play a little more this spring. But centerfield, both of them are going to play there. Whether it’s a competition or whatever, I view it as they [both] need to get ready.”
If you know general manager Mike Rizzo, he does not promote top prospects to sit on the bench so there is that consideration. There is also Andrew Stevenson who is the left-handed defense-first outfielder who looks like the number five outfielder
Nothing ever seems cut and dry with the Nationals as Davey Martinez threw another wrinkle into the mix that Victor Robles could also play some rightfield. What?
“I wouldn’t mind seeing Victor in rightfield because there’s days that we’re going to give Eaton a day off, and Michael will play [centerfield],” Martinez said. “So you might see [Robles] in rightfield.”
“I love what Michael has done so far. His swing is so short right now. And that’s the big thing for me. Because he’s going to hit for power. He’s strong, he’s got that leverage.”
“We told [Taylor], ‘You’re a doubles guy. Work gaps, hit doubles, get on base, steal bases. That’s who you are.’ And go play great defense, because we all know he can do that. So far, he’s been unbelievable.”
While Taylor worked for a few days in the Dominican Winter Leagues on his new shorter swing, he came into Spring Training “hot” and that is a great sign, but is it sustainable? For Robles, he is still learning how to hit MLB pitching. The 21-year-old needs the reps, and our own Don H. has already calculated that if Robles stays in the Minors to at least June 3rd, the team will add one more year of team control to the maximum of 6 years and 5 months.
“[Robles] is good,” Martinez said of the Nats top prospect. “He’s fun to be around. When you watch him and Soto in the dugout, they’re like two little kids. They bring all this energy to the players, always joking around and talking. Nothing ever seems to get Victor down. He’s just happy to be here, help us win. He’s very electric. I’m not going to assume anything. It’s early. We’re going to go through Spring Training and see what happens —but he’s going to be a big part of this year.”
Without Bryce Harper, the outfield certainly has a vacancy sign with big cleats to fill. Right now, you can ponder and debate the words of Davey Martinez which leaves that starting outfield open to interpretation which could also lead you to think that Mike Rizzo could change it all with an unexpected free agent signing or a trade.