Was it worth a shot at an extra $250,000 to have the team you play for share all their data on why you deserve less than you believe you’re worth?
Michael A. Taylor now knows the answer to that question. It’s not a pleasant process to go through based on what players who have gone through it in the past have said.
Taylor and the Washington Nationals went through the arbitration process this week and the 27-year-old outfielder came out on the losing end, with the team’s argument for paying him $3.25M instead of $3.5M in 2019 winning out in the end, though it is a raise for the five-year veteran, who is coming off a down season offensively in 2018 in which he earned $2.525M when he and the Nats avoided arbitration.
Taylor, who’ll turn 28 in late March, finished the 2018 campaign at .227/.287/.357, with a total of 22 doubles, six home runs, 29 walks, and 116 Ks in 134 games and 385 plate appearances, over which he was worth 71 wRC+ and 0.9 fWAR (which was down from a career-best 3.1 fWAR season in 2017, when he had something of a breakout year, posting a .271/.320/.486 line, 23 doubles, 19 home runs, 29 walks, 137 Ks, and 104 wRC+ in 118 games and 432 PAs).
In spite of his struggles with the bat last season, and the struggle to get at bats late in the year, Taylor has a champion in manager Davey Martinez, who told reporters this winter he still thinks he can get more out of the outfielder.
“He’s going to work with [hitting coach Kevin Long] this winter and cut down on strikeouts,” Martinez said, “... and hopefully [he and Victor Robles] will fight for the [center field] job.”
“I’m a big Michael Taylor fan, I am,” Martinez added this past December.
“His defense is the best, by far, in baseball. Nobody plays center field like him, so if we can get him to put the ball in play, he’s going to help us out a lot.”
Taylor’s case is one of two the Nationals are taking to arbitration this winter, along with that of right-handed reliever Kyle Barraclough, who filed at $2M while Washington submitted an increase to $1.725M from the $1.113M the pitcher earned in 2018 with the Miami Marlins.
The two cases were the first the Nationals have gone to arbitration over since 2015, when left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins won his case, receiving $2.4M instead of the $2.2M that Washington submitted.
Blevins was traded to the New York Mets two months after winning his case.
The Nationals’ “win” over Taylor today leaves them 7-3 in arbitration cases since baseball returned to the nation’s capital in 2005 if our record-keeping is correct...