With Daniel Murphy now in Chicago, Washington Nationals manager Davey Martinez has backup first baseman Mark Reynolds taking ground balls at second base.
Davey Martinez is clearly functioning under the ‘no bad ideas in brainstorming’ rule for the Washington Nationals when it comes to filling out his lineup card. Mark Reynolds playing second base could the latest possible idea.
Make no mistake, the keystone for the Nationals belongs to Wilmer Difo for the rest of this season. But Byron Kerr of MASN Sports recently reported that Reynolds has been fielding grounders and would play there in case of emergency.
There’s one main reason to be skeptical of this plan’s viability. Defense.
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It’s tough to say definitively that Reynolds can’t play second. However, what we can say is, when you google “Mark Reynolds Defense”, you find articles like “Mark Reynolds Is Horri-Bad At Defense” and “Mark Reynolds: Worst Defensive Year Ever?”
Granted, those articles are about Reynolds as a 28-year-old third baseman, not the 35-year-old first baseman he is now. So maybe he could be the first player ever to discover untapped pools of athleticism as he ages? That chance seems little to none.
Perhaps we’re overreacting a little bit as it’s only in case of emergency. Besides, the Rays used relief pitcher Sergio Romo at third base this year, and should a crisis strike for the Nats and Reynolds needs to take up the keystone position, the earth will not cave in on itself.
He’s actually played fifteen innings of professional baseball there. However, he’s also accumulated -5 Defensive Runs Saved over the past two seasons, as a part-time first baseman.
Most likely, Martinez and the Nationals are simply doing their due diligence to have a plan in place for every contingency, given Difo is currently the only natural option at second on the active roster.
Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reported that top prospect Carter Kieboom won’t get a look at second this season, so don’t hold your breath there. Anthony Rendon played second in the minors, but it also seems unlikely that they would slide him over there.
The fact of the matter is, if the Nationals are considering letting their journeyman power-bat play second base, the cupboard is bare. I don’t begrudge the Nats for thinking outside the box, especially when Plan A, Wilmer Difo, has a career OPS+ of 76, or 24% below league average.
Second base is one of the main spots the Washington Nationals need to evaluate in the off-season. Hopefully, Mike Rizzo and Martinez can figure out a more viable alternative for next year.