Washington Nationals: Replacing the replacement-level catchers

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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 02: Matt Wieters #32 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with teammates after the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park on August 02, 2018 in Washington, DC. Nationals won 10-4. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 02: Matt Wieters #32 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with teammates after the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park on August 02, 2018 in Washington, DC. Nationals won 10-4. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals Spencer Kieboom
(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

The Nationals have some youth at the position, but nobody has quite panned out as of yet.

  • Pedro Severino hit a painful .168/.254/.246 over a not-insignificant 190 ABs with the big-league club this year. He’s only 24-years-old, and he’s a solid defensive option, so there’s no reason to think Severino can’t continue to be one of the guys in the room, but if he’s the main guy in the room, the Nats are in trouble.
  • Spencer Kieboom rounds out the current major league catchers’ room, but he never profiled as a star. After raking in A ball in 2014 while slashing .309/.352/.500, Kieboom’s batting average consistently fell as he moved up the ladder. He’s been competent defensively and he leads all Nationals’ catchers with 0.2 WAR for the season. However, his BB% is under 10 percent, his K% is over 20 percent, and he’s only managed a most-disheartening 57 wRC+. It’d be nice to see him hold on long enough to play alongside little brother Carter Kieboom, but the long-term outlook isn’t great.
  • Raudy Read split his limited 2018 between AA and AAA after losing 80 games to a PED suspension. He’s a glove-first prospect like Severino, but he did hit 16 home runs in AA in 2016, good enough to get a cup of coffee in September. He was the Nats 11th ranked prospect according to MLB.com prior to this season, and if he rebounds early in ’19, Read could make an impact at the big-league level.
  • Tres Barrera jumped to #16 on the Nats’ midseason prospect list, largely spurred by his ability to hit for power from the right side. He’s not young, having played all of 2018 in High-A at age 23, but if he can tone down his approach while maintaining his power stroke, he could become a legit prospect – but probably not until 2020 at the earliest.

There’s no easy answer here. Severino, Read and Kieboom will be there in Spring Training to get a look, but if those three find themselves alone in the catchers’ room come next season, the Nats’ kryptonite will be clear. If they can’t land Grandal or Ramos, Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals may need to get creative in the trade market.

JT Realmuto is a stud who plays for the team most likely to trade their studs. Francisco Cervelli is entering a contract year for a low-budget team with a viable in-house alternative in Elias Diaz. Either one will cost their weight in prospect gold. After that, the team will be back to where we started, with a gap so large, all the bad-bodied catchers in the world won’t be able to fill it.

Next. Jayson Werth Nats Legacy. dark

One way or another, the Washington Nationals are going to have to address the catcher position this winter. The free agent class doesn’t look that great, so Mike Rizzo may need to get creative with his solution.

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