We’ve heard several potential fits for who the Nationals third baseman will be this season. One analyst adds Marcus Semien to the list.
Manager Davey Martinez has stated Carter Kieboom will be the third baseman for the upcoming year. Word out of Nationals camp is the team is “open to trading Carter Kieboom”. The majority of Nationals Nation likes the idea of the Nationals being tied to Cincinnati Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, in trade rumors, while the Kris Bryant to Washington buzz never really seems to fade. Now, we can throw free agent shortstop Marcus Semien into the mix as a possible fit.
Having played only 50 games at third base in his career, none since 2014, Semien would have to get reacquainted with the position, though putting him along side Trea Turner on the left side of the infield would improve the Nationals lineup moving forward.
MLB.com’s research analyst, Andrew Simon, had this to say on why Semien might be a good fit for the Nationals.
"I’m going somewhat off the board here, admittedly, as the Reds and A’s need Semien more. But it’s less clear that they will spend. Washington has been one of the most aggressive teams this offseason, trying to keep pace with the Braves and Mets. While the Nats are set at shortstop (Trea Turner), there’s enough uncertainty at second and third to make Semien a sensible addition."
While I don’t advocate for trading Kieboom, if Semien can be signed at a club friendly price, I would be all for the addition of the veteran infielder to the team. At the beginning of the offseason MLB Trade Rumors tabbed Semien as the 15th best free agent and predicted he would sign for one year at $14M. For that money, the Nationals shouldn’t even be sniffing around.
However, with the team acquiring Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber, and Jon Lester, all relatively cheap, and appearing to be out on J.T. Realmuto, they have ample funds to make a move for Semien. The market is moving slowly and there is a lot of competition left at the position. Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, and Justin Turner remain on the market. Would Semien take less money to play for a playoff contender, in hopes of raising his stock for the a potential larger deal a year later (once the economy of the game has improved)?
Prior to hitting .223 a year ago, Semien hit .285 with 33 home runs in 2019, as he finished third in the Most Valuable Player voting. Semien has also improved upon his fielding. After committing 35 errors in 2015, he has shown growth in recent years, attributing for 12 defensive runs saved in 2019. Semien is a veteran presence and even though he hasn’t played third base for years, has logged nearly seven thousand more defensive innings than Kieboom.
Should the Nationals consider going with an established player at third base, signing Semien would save them the trouble of depleting an already decrepit farm system, if they chose to trade for Suarez. While I do think this move would be a long shot, with the uncertainty surrounding third base, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it either.