Washington: The Nats Are Running Out Of Infield Options
By Max Rayman
The infield market is closing fast.
Washington has stated in the past that they are committed to Carter Kieboom, but that hasn’t kept them from looking around. At different times during the off-season, the Nationals have been tied to multiple infielders including Kris Bryant, Eugenio Suarez, and D.J. Lemahieu. All three would be a vast improvement over the unproven Kieboom, but Washington has balked at the asking price. Lemahieu re-signed with the Yankees, while Bryant and Suarez are both still available. However, Washington has made it clear they won’t part with either Cade Cavalli or Jackson Rutledge, leading to the end of trade talks. The front office has sent mixed signals to the fanbase regarding the third base situation. Mike Rizzo and company will need to make up their minds and fast because another infield option just came off the board.
Yesterday, it reported that the long-time St. Louis Cardinal, Kolten Wong, had signed a two-year deal to join the Brewers. Wong is a two time Gold Glove second baseman and would have helped vastly improve the Nationals porous defense. Signing Wong would have shifted Starlin Castro to third, sending Kieboom to the bench. Wong signed with the Brewers for $9 million a year, a pricey deal, but one that would still have kept the Nationals below the luxury tax.
With another infield option come and gone, barring a surprise trade, it seems the Nationals are set on rolling the dice on Kieboom to start the season at third. Despite Kieboom’s struggles at the plate, I have advocated for him in the past to be the team’s starting third baseman. Despite his lackluster start to his pro career, Kieboom deserves a full opportunity. The 23-year-old is a natural shortstop and had to learn third base on the fly. Last season in 33 games, Kieboom posted 5 DRS. If his glove was able to come around this quick, Washington needs to be patient and hope his bat follows suit. The fanbase has become spoiled by former players making immediate impacts at the pros. Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, and Stephen Strasburg are just a few that come to mind. Kieboom only has 165 at-bats under his belt and has struggled to acclimate to the pros due to being sent up and down so quickly. Offering the former top prospect another opportunity is a smart decision.
If Washington has still not fully made up their mind on the youngster, veteran options Jonathan Schoop, Justin Turner, and Marwin Gonzalez are all available. Turner would be the most expensive option and is on the wrong side of 30, but his bat would be a huge boost to a revamped Nationals offense. Schoop is another upgrade, but he is very inconsistent at the plate. Gonzalez is a super-utility player but is coming off of a down year with the Twins. All three come with their own pros and cons, something Washington will still need to weigh. But with Spring Training around the corner, if Washington wants a change at third, they will need to act now.