Washington Nationals: Pedro Severino gets his chance


The Washington Nationals will likely go in-house for Matt Wieters backup at catcher. Pedro Severino has the best chance to win the spot.

The Washington Nationals hope Pedro Severino is their answer to who backs up catcher Matt Wieters.

Severino, 23, has three cups of coffee in Washington under his belt. A September call-up from 2015 forward, he has 35 games and 69 plate appearances in the major leagues. Yet, he is not an offensive force. In limited action last year, he slashed .172/.226/.207. If you are wondering, the batting average beats Jose Lobaton by two points.

As you know, catching is one of two major needs the Nats must address in the off-season. Although quality catchers such as Alex Ávila are on the open market, Washington feels they are better off waiting to see what happens this spring in West Palm Beach before trading for a new battery mate.

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Lobaton, if you are wondering, signed a minor-league deal with the New York Mets. Tryouts to remove helmets after home runs will happen during the Grapefruit League, please do not send any resumes.

Because the Nats chances of winning the division are high, Washington can afford to be patient with Severino and Raudy Reed in an audition. But, the winner must catch around 60-80 games in the regular season. Wieters cannot handle a load of 110-130 games without crashing on offense.

For Severino, those are challenges.

Severino has never played 100 games over a full regular season. An injury last year limited him to 77 games between Washington and Syracuse. Although he hit well at the end of 2016, replacing the injured Wilson Ramos, his career numbers suggest his strength is on defense and not hitting.

In 141 Triple-A games, Severino’s slash line reads .259/.306/.335 with seven home runs and 50 RBI. Not bad numbers. But, last year in 59 games—along with the injury—he hit .242.

That is an improvement from Lobaton’s production from last year. But, your pet could give him a run for his money at the plate. Lobaton’s OPS+ was 36. League average is 100.

The Nats hope Severino wins the job and grabs a full season as Wieters’ understudy. Considered a manager on the field, Wieters is a tremendous role model to follow. If all goes well, famous last words, Severino starts as the Opening Day catcher in 2019 if Wieters leaves via free agency.

To bridge the gap, Severino must show improvement at the plate. This winter in the Dominican League, he is hitting .286 over 49 at-bats. That is progress.

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Although he has time to grow into the job, Severino must show Mike Rizzo and Dave Martinez their faith is justified. Earning a roster spot is a good start.