Washington Nationals: Who’s winning the third base competition?

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WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 23: Asdrubal Cabrera #13 of the Washington Nationals at bat against the Houston Astros during a Grapefruit League spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 23, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Asdrubal Cabrera

The Nationals brought Asdrubal Cabrera back last August for his second stint in Washington. He quickly fit into the mix and his offensive production catapulted once he got going. Thus, it wasn’t a surprise when the team announced that they were re-signing Cabrera on a one-year, $2.5 million contract this January.

Cabrera, 34, spent most of 2019 with the Texas Rangers where he played 93 games at third base before being released in August. While in the American League, he struggled to find consistency in the tune of a .235/.318/.711 slash line. When he was reunited with his former squad, his season dramatically turned a corner. He helped the Nationals secure a Wild Card spot while sporting a .323 batting average with 40 RBI in just 38 games. Over the course of his career, Cabrera is a .268 batter with 180 home runs, 796 RBI and 90 stolen bases.

This Spring, however, Cabrera only batted .136 with 4 strikeouts in 26 plate appearances. In nine of the ten games, he suited-up at third base, with the one other appearance being as the designated hitter.

Defensively, Cabrera has played at all four infield positions, with most of his time spent at shortstop. In his 13-year career, he boasts a .979 fielding percentage with more than 6,000 defensive chances. In recent years, as he’s aged and slowed down, he’s been utilized more at second and third base. Across 2018 and 2019, he played 243 games at either position, committing 12 errors over that time. With the Nationals specifically, he didn’t commit a single error in the regular season across 36 games played between second and third base.

Despite the poor Spring Training numbers, it’s not a matter of whether or not he makes the roster or sees the field, but rather about where he’ll see regular playing time. His efforts with the Nationals last season and his stellar career statistics have earned him an everyday role in the lineup.

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