Individual player recaps for your 2023 Nationals -Outfielders!

Outfielders – MLB

Lane Thomas, 27

How Acquired: Traded by the Cardinals for the remains of Jon Lester, 7/30/2021

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: MLB

The Numbers: 2.7 fWAR/3.2 rWAR


What We Learned: All aboard the Lane Train! Despite staying in the yard for the entire first month, Thomas nearly became the first 30-homer National since Rendon and Soto in 2019. Against lefties he was an MVP candidate, hitting .332/.375/.573 in almost 200 plate appearances. He was much more pedestrian against righties, and limped to the finish line, but there shouldn’t be any more questions about whether or not Lane can be an everyday player on a decent team. Not only did he carry the best bat in the lineup for most of the season, he hosed 18 runners on the bases as well, a number 50% higher than any other outfielder in either league (four others had 12 each). He probably deserved an All-Star nod, but the deep National League outfield did him in.

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: Thomas had a career year despite a career-low walk rate and a bunch of strikeouts, but his contact quality was impressive (74th percentile in finding the sweet spot). If he can stay on the barrel anywhere near that frequently and revert to his previous more selective self, he should be similarly productive. He’s quietly one of the best athletes in the league (96th percentile arm strength and 94th percentile sprint speed) and posts every day (he’s missed fewer than 30 games since arriving from St. Louis), so I’m bullish on him being able to repeat or approximate his 2023 campaign.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: You can have a contender with Thomas as your third-best outfielder who plays good defense, is a tough out with pop, and can handle center field in an emergency (or even second base). If he’s putting up 80% of his 2023 numbers from the seventh or eighth spot in the lineup, that’s going to be a pretty good lineup. He can fill that role. Whether or not he will, however, depends on the development of the young outfielders and the possibility that he could be dealt at either of the next two deadlines.

Stone Garrett, 27

How Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent, 11/29/2022

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: MLB

The Numbers: 1.2 fWAR/1.9 rWAR


What We Learned: That it worked out well for the Nats when Corey Dickerson predictably got hurt in the first week of the season, and that the Diamondbacks had so many outfielders that they traded a starter (Daulton Varsho) and non-tendered a quality hitter/real estate agent (Garrett). Garrett was effectively the last cut in spring training, but his exile to Rochester lasted all of two games before Dickerson strained a calf muscle and was out a month. Garrett was initially deployed as a lefty-killer (against whom he slugged over 100 points higher but actually got on base less), but eventually became more or less an everyday guy, in particular after the trade deadline, until his gruesome leg injury at Yankee Stadium in late August. He was one of the Nats’ best hitters when he was in the lineup, and rather tellingly the team went 47-42 in the games in which he played (and in those wins, Stone hit .339/.409/.606, so he was a big factor).

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: Everyone is rooting for Stone to heal as quickly as possible from his broken leg and ankle surgery, and hopefully he will be cleared to resume full baseball activities in March. If there are no complications, he should be on the Opening Day roster as either a starting outfielder or potential starting designated hitter.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: As the right-handed designated hitter option and bench bat, sure thing. Stone doesn’t have big platoon splits (apart from the SLG) and had only one bad month (May), so he could provide some veteran stability for a putative 2025 contender that would have a lot of guys too young to rent a car. He’s also not even arbitration-eligible until 2026, so he should be around unless he becomes a trade piece, but that seems unlikely for one of the most beloved guys in the clubhouse.

Jacob Young, 23

How Acquired: 2021 Amateur Draft, 7th round (203rd overall)

Prospect Rank: WAS #29 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: A+, AA, AAA, MLB

The Numbers: 0.7 fWAR/0.6 rWAR


What We Learned: That it looks like Young can hit enough to stick as a fourth or fifth outfielder in the long term. The rare player who made it to four different levels in one season, Young played the best center field defense of anyone on the roster and ran the bases exceptionally well. He has little to no power, but as a contact hitter with enough on-base ability to get by (not to mention the 98th percentile wheels), he should stick in the majors for awhile.

Can anyone figure out why Young’s home/road splits had a polar opposite effect in almost equal sample sizes? This is what the Nats need to figure out. Young at Nats Park was a machine. On the road, he was a slap hitter.

Young also had the final walk-off hit of the season for the Nats on September 6, as well as a few other late inning heroics. There are not many call-ups who could keep their heartbeat steady enough to come through in big moments.

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: Depending on what happens with James Wood, Dylan Crews, and Garrett in the spring, Young should either be the starting center fielder or the fourth outfielder. In an ideal world, he’s the latter, giving each of the starters a day off once a week and serving as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner in the late innings of close games. He finished a perfect 13-for-13 in stolen bases in his 33-games with the Nats. That is a valuable commodity in today’s game.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Just tell yourself he’s the next Michael A. Tater minus the “Tater” part of the equation, and yes he can. He has an elite MLB skill (his speed), and that alone will make him a factor at some point in the future.

Alex Call, 28

How Acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Guardians, 8/7/2022

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AAA, MLB

The Numbers: 0.4 fWAR/1.1 rWAR


What We Learned: That Alex Call, who spent a month in the middle of the season in AAA, led the Nationals in walks? Not great, Bob! That was about the only bright spot for Call at the plate, although he did play decent defense, especially after having to take over center field when Victor Robles went down.

40-Man Odds: 80%? The organization likes him and wouldn’t mind keeping him around as organizational depth.

2024 Outlook: Young’s arrival as the vanguard of the minor league outfield prospects likely spells the end of Call’s tenure as a regular member of the major league roster, though with an option remaining he is likely to be ready in Rochester. That’s where Call will be if Garrett is healthy in the spring and at least one of Wood or Crews is ready on Opening Day. 

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: No, he doesn’t have a skill that will carry him on a good roster. His defense is not so great as to keep him around over Young, and despite good speed he is not a great base runner.

Victor Robles, 26

How Acquired: Signed as an international free agent, 7/2/2013

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: MLB

The Numbers: 0.4 fWAR/-0.1 rWAR


What We Learned: That Robles hadn’t gotten to the end of his nine lives, getting off to the best offensive start of his career, especially with respect to his command of the strike zone. His defense, however, appeared to regress further, even accounting for his numbers being skewed by multiple early-season Sun Monster balls. He landed on the injured list with back spasms after an awkward encounter with an outfield wall in early May, and only made it back for a few games a month later before being shut down. Perhaps his biggest contribution over the course of the season was coming up with the helmet wig for home run celebrations.

40-Man Odds: 5% – I think almost everyone knows it’s time for him to move on.

2024 Outlook: He should be someone else’s problem next year – I think Vic should follow in Michael A.’s footsteps and go to Kansas City, where he would be an immediate upgrade.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: That time has passed, alas. There are few major league players I can think of who were more adversely affected by the pandemic than Robles.

Blake Rutherford, 26

How Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent, 1/28/2023

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AA, AAA, MLB

The Numbers: -0.3 fWAR/-0.2 rWAR


What We Learned: That there’s a stark divide between someone’s ability to hit International League pitching and their ability to hit major league pitching. Rutherford showed out even in the offense-friendly environment of AAA, but struggled mightily when he got his chance late in the summer. A former top prospect (a first-round pick of the Yankees in 2016), he did finally collect his first major league hit, but that was about the only bright spot for Rutherford in 2023 at the major league level.

40-Man Odds: 0-1%

2024 Outlook: If he’s still with the organization, he will be in Rochester and off the 40-man roster. Given the list of names in front of him once Wood and Crews are deemed MLB-ready, I would find it unlikely that we see Rutherford much if at all next season.Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Not likely. The Nats’ biggest organizational strength is its outfield prospect depth, and if Rutherford is playing any kind of a serious role, that depth would have to have been seriously weakened.

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