- The Washington Times - Monday, November 30, 2020

Michael A. Taylor’s time with the Nationals has officially come to a close.

The veteran outfielder had chosen free agency over a minor league assignment last month after Washington placed Taylor on waivers. And on Monday, Taylor landed with the Royals. Taylor signed a one-year deal worth a base salary of $1.75 million, including up to $1 million in incentives.

“We’ve had our eyes on him and fits kind of what we look for in center field, and the ability to impact that position,” Royals manager Dayton Moore said. “There are very few teams that show up in here for 81 dates that can cover this center field and we understand the importance of that. So a guy like Michael, yes, he’s been on our radar.”

Taylor’s time in Washington was up and down. The 29-year-old played a huge role in the Nationals’ 2017 National League Division Series against the Cubs. While the team ended up losing that series, Taylor blasted a grand slam in the eighth inning of Game 4, then knocked a three-run shot in Game 5.

In his only plate appearance during the 2019 World Series, Taylor crushed a solo shot, too.

He became a fan favorite for his reactions in pivotal moments, appearing bemused or nonplussed.

Following a walkoff double in 2018, Taylor hardly reacted at all, standing on second base while his teammates charged him down. After making a diving catch to end the 2019 National League Division Series against the Dodgers, he stood and held the ball out, a slight smirk on his face. Then his teammates jumped all over him.

But Taylor also struggled at times with a high strikeout rate, and his average tended to leave something to be desired. In 2017, Taylor’s best season, he hit 19 homers and drove in 53 runners during the regular season while hitting .271.

In the coronavirus-altered 2020 campaign, Taylor’s average hung at .196 in 99 plate appearances. Andrew Stevenson eventually took Taylor’s place as the team’s fourth outfielder, leaving Taylor as surplus to requirements.

With Taylor joining Kansas City, the Royals could move Whit Merrifield back to second base. The utility star played 51 games in the outfield, but Taylor’s addition might free Merrifield to return to his natural position.

“I talked to a few teams,” Taylor said, “but after I spoke to Dayton on the phone, and Mike (Matheny), I just knew this was a place I wanted to be, and if I got an opportunity I was going to sign, and I was lucky to be able to do that.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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