The Nationals officially bid farewell to Michael A. Taylor, who departed in free agency on Monday after more than a decade with the organization.
Taylor, 29, signed a reported one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Kansas City Royals, with whom he'll have a legitimate chance at becoming an everyday center fielder.
"I think there is still some untapped potential there [with Taylor]," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "I think he'd be the first to tell you he hasn't been as consistent as he'd like. But he's been a part of championship teams. He has speed and power."
A sixth-round selection by Washington in 2009, it's not unwarranted to say Taylor never reached his true potential in his seven seasons with the Nationals.
In total, Taylor smacked 53 homers, 87 doubles and eight triples with 184 RBI, 77 stolen bases while slashing .237/.291/.395 for a .686 OPS. But it was Taylor’s high-volume strikeout rate — of 32.4 percent — that always limited him from being a consistent producer.
"He's a great kid that we drafted, signed and developed as a shortstop and made him into a really good defensive outfielder," Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told The Sports Junkies on Tuesday. "He was a credit to the Nationals name on the front of his jersey. He conducted himself beautifully and he was a big contributor and a huge factor there at the Nationals Baseball Academy, along with Ian Desmond over the years, and Anthony Rendon, and Sean Doolittle and Ryan Zimmerman."
Aside from being a genuinely kind person, what Nationals fans will truly cherish about Taylor is how he threw his entire regular-season reputation out the window come playoff time, to transform into an All-Star level talent when it mattered most.
Taylor slashed .316/.395/.632 for a ridiculous 1.027 OPS in 16 postseason games for the Nationals. At a time when runs are scarce and every scoring opportunity adds up, he drove in 10 runs on 12 hits. With four postseason home runs in 43 plate appearances, Taylor homered at an incredible clip of once per every 10.75 postseason at-bats.
Taylor authored his first signature postseason moment in 2017. With the Nats trailing the Cubs 2-1 in the NLDS and facing elimination, Taylor broke up a 1-0 Game 4 nail-biter with an eighth-inning grand slam that secured the victory for the Nats and a trip home for a decisive Game 5.
Although the Nats would go on to lose Game 5, Taylor stroked another bomb, to the tune of three runs in the second inning, to unknot a 1-1 tie and give Washington a 4-1 lead.
Taylor homered twice along Washington’s 2019 World Series run: off of Adam Wainwright, who was dealing in Game 2 of the NLCS, giving the Nats their first lead of the game (1-0); and in Game 2 of the World Series, a solo homer in the ninth inning of Washington’s 12-3 win in Houston.