Nationals: DoD writers give thoughts on burning questions for Washington
Carter Kieboom, Starlin Castro, Justin Turner, different free-agent option
I am not sold Carter Kieboom is the third baseman of the future nor do I think the Nationals should give up hope on the former first round pick. Kieboom has only 165 plate appearances under his belt.
Kieboom has had his struggles, collecting just three extra base hits in those plate appearances and making seven errors in just 128 chances in his time split between third base and shortstop.
There is also an abundance of potential here. I refuse to believe Kieboom is a AAAA player, better than a Triple-A guy, not quite MLB caliber. He hit .303 with an OPS of .902 a year ago in Fresno and given ample time at the big league level, he’ll grow into the player the Nationals drafted.
The Nationals will not be giving Carter Kieboom a long leash. For his sake, either he or the Nats need to get out of the gate fast, to ensure there is no turnover at the hot corner. I am going with Kieboom to begin the year at third base.
Now say it with me. Starlin Castro. Starlin Castro. Starlin Castro. In 2020, outside of Juan Soto and Trea Turner, the Nationals lacked consistency from the lineup. This became even more of an issue when Castro broke his wrist and missed the rest of the season.
In 16 games before going on the IL, Castro hit .267, with two homers, four RBIs, and a .752 OPS. Not gaudy numbers, but Castro was able to get on base. Starting Castro and using Kieboom on the bench adds a one-year stopgap, while the team’s former top prospect continues to adapt to MLB level pitching.
Carter Kieboom was lost at the plate in 2020. Plain and simple. The bright-side was his glove. After learning a new position on the fly (he’s a natural shortstop learning the hot corner) he posted positive defensive metrics. He had five DRS and a .8 UZR.
Unfortunately, Washington does not have the time to be patient with the 23-year-old. While he only has 165 at-bats at the MLB level, Kieboom will shortly have to either sink or swim.