The Washington Nationals will regroup after losing shortstop Trea Turner Thursday with a fractured right wrist. What happens next?
Turner took one below his wristband from Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop in the seventh inning. You knew it was not good the moment it happened and the worst fears were confirmed shortly after the game.
This is the third Opening Day starter to go down with an injury. Adam Eaton tore his left ACL and is gone for the year while Jayson Werth is covering from a left foot contusion. Werth hopes to return after the All-Star break.
More from District on Deck
- Washington Nationals Minor League Spotlight: Robert Hassell III
- Washington Nationals Tuesday Q&A
- 3 Free Agents the Nationals Should Gamble On
- A Washington Nationals Christmas Wishlist
- Washington Nationals: Is Seth Lugo Still an Option?
Losing Turner is huge. After an earlier hamstring injury, along with pressure with expectations, he excelled in June with a better eye for pitches and 22 stolen bases. His ability to turn a single or walk into a double, or possible triple, made him a dangerous table setter.
Stephen Drew and Wilmer Difo will fill the role at short during Turner’s recovery. Drew has a slash line of .340/.367/.491 this year in limited duty and a solid defensive glove. Difo has struggled at the plate, hitting .196.
Coupled with Eaton’s injury, the Nats do not have a leadoff hitter. Anthony Rendon’s ability to work counts mixed with an on-base percentage of .404 heading into Thursday’s game makes him an ideal candidate, but he normally hits sixth. Michael Taylor is second on the club in steals with nine, but strikes out too often.
In an already complicated trade deadline situation where Washington needs a closer and right on the line for the competitive balance tax, Turner’s injury throws a monkey wrench into the equation.
The daunting decision Mike Rizzo and the Nats face is tough. If you use Atlanta Braves slugger Freddy Freeman’s wrist injury as a guide, this is a 10-week outage. That would place Turner’s return in mid-September. Would Washington bite the bit and go with Drew and Difo until then or rent a player?
If they trade for a Jed Lowrie of Zach Cozart, the team will cross the $195 million threshold and pay a 20 percent tax for every dollar over. They need a closer and have no leverage. Throw in a shortstop and take a deep breath.
It is possible Turner could heal in four-to-six weeks, placing him back around the first of August, but it is too early to tell. If the fracture allows him a quick return, chances are there is no trade.
Depth was an issue when the season started and Washington is stretched thin. With little help ready in the minors, a bad situation is worse.