With current top prospect Anthony Rendon, the Nationals are taking an approach they hadn’t taken yet. Rendon came up and was drafted as a third baseman. That position leaves him no room to start the way that the team is currently set up. In fact, no infield position would have him set up to start even though his bat seems to be Major League-ready. That’s fine, and I’m not calling for him to start the season in Washington. The most interesting development is having him play shortstop, second base and third base so far in Spring Training. Second base was rumored over the winter when there were questions regarding Danny Espinosa‘s availability. Davey Johnson has said that he wants Rendon to work on his footwork at second before using him in a game there, and that he will start the year in the minor leagues, probably AA.
Here’s what I think. I think the Nationals know Rendon’s bat is ready for the Major Leagues. I also think they know they are set at almost every infield position for the short term. By having Rendon possibly playing 2-3 positions, they can theoretically call him up in the middle of the summer and have him start 2-4 times a week giving him playing time and resting some of the veteran starters, whether it be Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond or Espinosa.
I see Rendon eventually playing a Christian Garcia role for the Nationals. He can come up, play regularly while getting acclimated to the Major Leagues and if he proves himself with the bat, he will get a spot on the playoff roster should the Nationals make it that far.
Rendon is unquestionably a talent but he hasn’t played much professionally due to injuries. The things he has hurt are not alarming. They are mostly freak injuries and nothing that seems reoccurring or troublesome. It will be interesting to see how he will perform in the minor leagues. If his bat is there, I see him in the Majors as early as July with a chance to make the playoff roster like a Manny Machado with the Baltimore Orioles last year. Machado ended up starting every day, and that’s not something I see from Rendon, but the chance to have a bat like his for a big at bat late in a game could be his ticket to the big leagues.