What will the Washington Nationals do with Ben Revere after an injury-riddled 2016? We take a deeper look at the non-tender candidate.
Considered a non-tender candidate before arbitration, Revere arrived from the Toronto Blue Jays as an average defender who could lead off and steal bases. Washington found someone who fit the bill, but his name is Trea Turner.
Yet, Turner is an infielder. A shortstop, if you will. There is a problem there, however, as Danny Espinosa plays a fantastic defensive short. He doubles as a strikeout machine. So, the conventional wisdom since the end of the season is find a true centerfielder, move Turner to short and Espinosa to a super-utility role.
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Aside from striking out at a rate that would impress Nolan Ryan, Espinosa gets an undeserved bad rap. Despite his slash line of .204/.306/.378, he slugged 24 homers while driving in 72. Yes, he whiffed 172 times, still better than his career high of 189 in 2012.
Is it bad? Yes. Espinosa’s Adjusted OPS+ in 2016 is 81. He is 19 percent below league average. Offensively, Turner is an upgrade. Compared to Revere, so is Espinosa.
How bad is Revere? In 103 games, his slash line of .217/.260/.300 translates to an Adjusted OPS+ of 49. As MASN’s Mark Zuckerman reports, Revere suffered from an oblique injury most of the year. Revere is not that awful when healthy.
Revere is not an improvement over Espinosa when healthy either. Sure, he can swipe bases. In 2014, he stole 49 with the Philadelphia Phillies. But, he has six, yes six, career home runs and never has had a full-season OPS+ above 100.
An average defender, Washington gains nothing moving Turner to short for Revere and loses around 20 homers next year, unless Turner cranks out 35-plus. Just twice in seven seasons has Revere topped BB-Ref’s standard for an everyday starter with a WAR 2.0 or higher.
At 29 and eight seasons into his career, his odds of breaking into an above-average player—or an average one—are slim.
It is not the worst thing if Turner plays 2017 in center. Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox is an infielder, but Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts bumped him into right field. Betts finished second in the American League MVP vote. There is no reason Turner cannot make the same change.
Now, Revere may be the best outfield bench option. If so, he is a cheap player under team control, but he is not a better option than Turner or Espinosa with the bat.
Revere’s talent is not enough to move Turner to short. Period.