Washington Nationals: Where To Put Carter Kieboom

Carter Kieboom is seen by many as the future at third base for the Nats. However, he showed back in Spring his glove wasn’t ready yet. Despite this, the Nats still need to find a way to implement his bat into the lineup.

Before the 2020 season was put on hold and Spring Traning ended early, a big question for the Nationals was if Carter Kieboom was ready to take the next step. During the 2019 season, the team’s top prospect was called up for 11 games at the end of April. The 22-year-old hit .128, with two homers, and two RBIs. In the field, he was a liability, committing four errors while manning short. Despite his disastrous first call up, Kieboom immediately started raking when he was set back to Triple-A. In 109 games with the teams Triple-A affiliate, Fresno Grizzlies, he hit .303, with 16 homers, 79 RBIs, and an OPS of .902.

Entering Spring Training, he was the front runner to take over as the starting third baseman, but unfortunately, he faltered.  In 30 at-bats, the team’s top prospect hit .233, with two RBIs and nine strikeouts. In the field, Kieboom’s inexperience at the hot corner showed; committing three errors and finishing with a fielding percentage of .875.

After showing signs of still not being ready to man third, it was expected by some that Kieboom would be sent back to the minors to work on his defense. Than the Coronavirus hit, essentially wiping out the 2020 minor league season. With that season canceled and a new Spring Training about to start, the Nationals will have a decision to make with the 22-year-old. Unlike in years past, due to 2020 only being 60 games, the Nationals have multiple options at their disposal.

According to Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington,

“Teams will open with 30 active players for the first two weeks of the season. The roster is cut to 28 for the third and fourth weeks, then to 26 for the final two weeks (which would have been the roster total in 2020 if it was a normal season).

Each team will also designate 60 eligible players for the season. About half will be inactive and training at an alternate site from the active roster. They are separated as yet another mitigation step against coronavirus.

Teams are allowed to carry three players on a road trip “taxi squad” in case a roster change is needed. No more flying same-day from Fresno. Those players will not receive service time unless they are activated. If a team carries the full three players with them, one must be a catcher.

There is no doubt Carter Kieboom will make the 60 man roster, but what it comes down to is if he will make the 30 men active roster to start the season. I 100% believe Kieboom should start the season on the active roster. With the minor league season being canceled, Kieboom needs more reps at the hot corner. Cabrera will get the nod as the starter, but Kieboom should be the primary backup. While he still looks uncomfortable at the position, the only way to fix that is by giving him more playing time.

Another reason to put Kieboom on the active roster is to help bolster their already impressive infield/DH depth. Kiebooms bat is ahead of his glove and once he gets used to MLB pitching, he should be able to help out immediately. Eric Thames, Ryan Zimmerman, and Howie Kendrick will be the teams primary DH hitters with Asdrubal Cabrera and Starlin Castro filling in when needed. Kieboom showed in the minors that he can hit and putting him at DH is a way to get his bat into the lineup. With Ryan Zimmerman still undecided about playing this season, Kieboom could fill in when Kendrick needs a day off and Thames is starting at first. After struggling through the majority of Spring Training, Kieboom ended it on a hot streak, finishing the last few games hitting .286, with two homers, and two RBIs. With the Nationals playing 40 games against the NL East and the other 20 against the AL East, it will be all hands on deck.