Rosenthal notes that Pagan was previously linked to the Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals earlier this winter, but their other signings quashed the possibility. He further speculates that the Nats could use Pagan as a back-up for Adam Eaton in center field. That would likely push 25-year-old Michael Taylor to Triple-A Syracuse to begin the season.
Article continues below ...
Pagan put together a solid campaign for the San Francisco Giants in 2016, his 11th season in the major leagues. He slashed .277/.331/.418 with a career-high 12 home runs and 55 RBI over 129 games. Those numbers represented a notable bounce-back from the year before, when he posted a career-low .635 OPS in 133 contests.
Though certainly never much of a power threat in his career, Pagan has been quietly productive at the plate, posting an OPS+ of 100 or above in six of the last eight seasons. He has also made an impact on the base paths, averaging 20 steals per year over that same span. In 2012 he led the majors with 15 triples. Due to turn 36 in July, he probably won’t be approaching a feat like that again, but he did manage to leg out five triples and swipe 15 bags last season.
Staying on the field has been an issue for Pagan in the past, however. He played in a total of 167 games between 2013 and 2014 due to back and knee surgeries. He’s remained mostly healthy the last two seasons, though, and a bench role like the one Washington would provide might suit him at this point in his career.
At the very least, Pagan would probably give the Nationals more than they are likely to get out of Taylor in 2017 as an extra outfielder. Though still fairly young, Taylor has yet to put together a very convincing case at the big league level. In 231 games for Washington over the past two seasons, he owns a .228/.281/.363 slash line with 22 homers and 84 RBI. Some further seasoning in the minors could be in order, and bringing Pagan in for a year would allow that.
Pagan is the kind of useful veteran that contenders always seem to have on their benches. With the Nationals eyeing another NL East division title and beyond, he could play a small but important role. Experienced at all three outfield positions, he would also allow budding young star Trea Turner to remain at shortstop in the event of an injury to Eaton.