Twenty-four hours before the Washington Nationals dealt Drew Storen to the Toronto Blue Jays for veteran outfielder Ben Revere and a PTBNL, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo talked to reporters in the nation's capital, after a press conference to introduce free agent signing Daniel Murphy, about being comfortable with the roster as it stood after Murphy signed a three-year deal.
Washington did "not need to acquire an outfielder," Rizzo said, as quoted by Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes, in spite of the persistent rumors of the Nationals' interest in adding an outfield bat and the Nats' reported $200M offer to free agent outfielder Jason Heyward earlier this winter:
"If there’s a value out there that can help the ballclub, then we would certainly look into it, but we like our depth and we like our talent level."
With the roster the way it was at that point, it appeared that, barring injuries or changes, Jayson Werth, Michael Taylor and Bryce Harper would be the Nationals' everyday outfielders.
Taylor, 24, put up a .229/.282/.358 line with 15 doubles and 14 HRs in 138 games and 511 plate appearances in his first full major league season, finishing the year at 1.0 fWAR.
Rizzo, as quoted by the WaPost's reporters, said he loved the young outfielder and was happy with the '09 6th Round pick's development over the course of the 2015 campaign:
"He had a heck of a year for us last year, first of all, for a player that was probably three or four months ahead of schedule and forced into an everyday role that he probably developmentally wasn’t prepared for, but mentally he came through," Rizzo said. "Mentally he was extremely prepared, and as the season wore on he got better and better and better every month. And again, I say it when I describe Daniel Murphy, this guy, when the pressure was the biggest, he performed at his best. This guy got as many big hits for us as anyone on the ballclub did last year, and performed extremely well for us. Very high hopes for Michael Taylor, and a guy we really like."
A day later, however, Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals' front office pulled the trigger on the deal with the Jays, adding the 27-year-old Revere to the outfield mix after a 2015 campaign split between Philadelphia and Toronto which saw him post a .306/.342/.377 line with 22 doubles, seven triples, two home runs and 31 stolen bases in 152 games and 634 PAs for the Phillies and Jays, over which he was worth 1.9 fWAR.
So will it be Revere starting in center field on an everyday basis in the nation's capital in 2016?
"That remains to be seen," Rizzo told reporters in a conference call on the deal on Saturday morning.
"[Revere has] played all three positions. He’s played center field extremely well. We know he can hit at the top of the lineup. We got ourselves five really good outfielders, I think, on the roster right now that are gonna compete for playing time. Jayson Werth and Harp, obviously, they're going to get their at-bats whenever they’re able to do so.
"You've got Michael Taylor, a special prospect and a really good player that emerged on the big league level last year.
"You've got [Matt] den Dekker, who can really do a lot of things for us off the bench. And Ben. So we like where we’re at right now depth-wise in the outfield. We gave our manager Dusty Baker a lot of different options, a lot of different ways to go. We feel good at where we’re at balance-wise in the lineup. Athleticism, speed – those are all things that we tried to adhere to this winter and to improve ourselves in. And I think when you look at the athleticism we’ve added, the accomplished major league hitters that we’ve put on the roster, the guys that don’t strike out much and move the ball around and can play really opportunistic offense. I think that was what we were going into the offseason trying to do and I think we’ve accomplished a lot of our goals."
Asked what Revere brought to the Nationals' roster, Rizzo talked about what he adds on offense and defense.
Revere played all three outfield positions for the Phillies and Blue Jays last season and the Nats' GM said they liked what they saw from the six-year major league veteran.
"He can really play the position," Rizzo said, referring to center.
"He’s a good defensive center fielder with a short-throwing arm, a poor throwing arm, but beyond that, he’s got good range angles and good routes to the baseballs and makes great plays.
"I feel good about him in the outfield, anywhere in the outfield," Rizzo added. "With Revere and Taylor, you’ve got yourself two of the best defensive guys in the league. And of course, you got Harp who’s a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder and Jayson who knows how to play all three positions also. So we feel good about the versatility. We feel good about the athleticism and we feel good about the improvement that we’ve had in all facets of our roster."
Offensively, Rizzo explained, Revere's speed is a weapon that will make a difference on the Nationals' roster.
"He’s one of the fastest players in the league," Rizzo said. "He can steal you a base. He plays good defense. He’s a left-handed contact hitter. When we talk about players like Ben Revere and his skill set, he doesn’t hit many doubles and he doesn’t get many walks, but the guy gets on base. Last year he was at a .342 clip.
"His singles turn into doubles. We feel good about him. He’s hit at the top of the lineup each stage of his career.
"He’s got a propensity to steal you a base in big situations and he’s the type of leadoff hitter that is very tough to pitch against. He fouls off a lot of pitches and has really good at-bats. We look forward to seeing him on our team this year.
"He’s played against us for years. He’s a guy that we’ve respected for a long time.
"It should be fun to see his gregarious personality, his smile and his energy, the way he grinds out at-bats, plays defense and steals bases."