Washington Nationals: Predicting the 2018 bench

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 22: Wilmer Difo
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 22: Wilmer Difo /
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Matt Adams

Adam Lind did a phenomenal job as the Nats’ back-up first baseman and primary pinch-hitter in 2017, but he is now a free agent. With the season he had, he certainly deserves to be a starting first baseman or designated hitter in 2018, but the Nats cannot offer him either. Because of this, he likely will not return in 2018.

If Lind departs in free agency, Matt Adams could be a terrific replacement. Adams, a 29-year-old first baseman, spent 2017 between the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, and had his best season in a few years.

In 131 total games, Adams owned a .274/.319/.522 slash line with 20 homers. That’s not too shabby for a so-called bench player.

One of the most difficult tasks in baseball is pinch-hitting, but Adams excelled at it in 2017. As a pinch-hitter, he hit .309 with three homers and 15 RBI’s.

In addition to being able to produce off of the bench, Adams did a magnificent job filling in as a long-term starter. When Freddie Freeman fractured his wrist in May, Adams was thrust into the starting role, and he did not miss a beat.

Adams did so well while filling in for Freeman that when Freeman came back, Adams remained at first base and Freeman moved across the diamond and played third base. It is not often that the face of a franchise changes positions for a so-called bench player.

Finally, Adams provides a little defensive versatility. The Nats’ outfielders always seem to suffer a plethora of injuries, so they cycle through countless outfielders. Lind hit so well in 2017, that he actually saw some time in the outfield to get his bat in the lineup.

The Nats could do the same thing with Adams if they sign him. He does not have much experience in the outfield, but he does have some, so he could play a corner outfield position to get his bat in the lineup. The offense that he produces could be enough to outweigh any defensive errors he may commit.

The Nats got a good look at Adams in 2017, while he dominated for their division rival, so do not be surprised if we see him in DC in 2018.