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Nationals rumors: Nate McLouth trade rumors; role next season?

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Washington Nationals' outfielder Nate McLouth needed surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder last season, but he's working hard to be ready for the 2015 campaign. What role will he play for the Nats?

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In a December 12th article at MASNSports.com, Roch Kubatko wrote that he'd, "... heard that the Orioles may have interest in bringing back outfielder Nate McLouth if he becomes available," this winter. At that point it still was a possibility, Kubatko suggested, "... judging by conversations I had with a couple of people in and out of the organization."

Washington signed the veteran outfielder to a two-year/$10.75M contract in December 2013 after a solid +2.6 fWAR campaign in Baltimore in which McLouth posted a .258/.329/.399 line with 31 doubles and 12 HRs over 146 games and 593 plate appearances.

"It’s been a long process, I think it’s been like three and a half months since I’ve had the surgery, something like that, and like I said it’s definitely been monotonous..." - Nate McLouth on rehab from surgery for a torn labrum

McLouth played just 79 games for the Nationals in 2014, however, posting a .173/.280/.237 line over 162 PAs before a torn labrum in his right shoulder required surgery that ended his season.

As Kubatko wrote at the time, he heard that the Nats, "...apparently would be willing to eat some of that salary in order to trade him, but the Orioles will wait to see whether he's released," since they felt he would be redundant with the likes of David Lough already on the O's roster.

Baltimore Sun writer Eduardo A. Encina wrote this morning that while McLouth's return to Baltimore might make sense as far as the Orioles' needs are concerned, he heard from, "... one club source that the team currently sees more promise in outfielder David Lough," who is also significantly cheaper.

"[W]hile the Orioles don’t see trading for McLouth as an option now," Encina notes, "maybe that changes if the O’s can’t fill their outfield holes and the Nationals are looking to move a piece from their crowded outfield mix down the road."

McLouth told reporters last month that he was working hard to make sure he was 100% recovered and ready for Spring Training.

"I’ve been rehabbing pretty much every day," the now-33-year-old outfielder said.

"It’s pretty monotonous obviously, but it’s getting much better. I saw a doctor yesterday here, and he said it’s looking pretty good."

"It’s been a long process, I think it’s been like three and a half months since I’ve had the surgery, something like that, and like I said it’s definitely been monotonous, but I can definitely feel it getting stronger."

As for how much the shoulder issue, which grew progressively worse as the season went on, affected his production, McLouth said, "That’s really tough to know, but it was there."

One thing that could help, he said, would be getting more regular at bats, which is something the Nationals told him he would get when he signed.

"Hopefully get some sort of consistent scheduled playing time," he said.

"I think there was a month there when I had ten at-bats in a month. That’s tough for anybody. it’s tough to do anything with that, so hopefully I can get in there a little more and make the most of my opportunities."

McLouth was asked if he knew what his role would be going forward?

"That’s the question," he said. "I don’t know. I guess it’s something that will kind of take care of itself in Spring Training."