Nationals: Why Carter Kieboom figures to play a prominent role in 2021
By Ben Favela
Despite his initial struggles, Carter Kieboom is still the guy moving forward.
Much was made this past offseason that the Nationals needed to go out and acquire a power-hitting third baseman to cement themselves in the highly competitive NL East. However, the front office thought differently and wasn’t inclined to give up on the 23-year old after only 138 big-league at-bats. After all, Carter Kieboom was considered one of the better prospects in all of baseball over the last 3-plus years. He was one of a very short list of prospects the Nats wouldn’t entertain in a trade for a relief pitcher over the past few trade deadlines.
Going back to the Trade Deadline of 2019, the Nats and Tigers discussed a deal that would have sent relief-pitcher Shane Greene to the Nats. At the time, Greene had a sparkly ERA under a 2.00, but with Tigers GM Al Avila insisting on Kieboom as the return, talks did not go far. As we all know, Mike Rizzo and company, pivoted and made smaller moves by acquiring Roenis Elias, Hunter Strickland, and closer Daniel Hudson. While Strickland and Elias didn’t pan out, Hudson became instrumental in the team’s World Series run. Rizzo’s moves paid dividends for the club not only in 2019, but also for the future as the team didn’t give up any of its higher-tier prospects.
Now heading in 2021, a lot will be expected out of Kieboom with the hope that he cements himself as the starter at third base and part of the young core with Turner, Soto, and Robles.
It was also reported that Kieboom played in 2020 through a groin injury that was in fact more serious than reported, and it impacted his ability to hit for power. At times last year, Kieboom did not look relatively comfortable at the plate and when he would get a hit, most of the times, it was an opposite-field, relatively not very hard-hit single. It’s very understandable why Kieboom struggled last year after hearing about his groin injury.
Now with Spring Training nearly in full-swing and full-squad workouts just days away, there is lots of excitement building and many Nats fans hope Carter Kieboom can cement himself in the Nats everyday lineup and make himself at home at the hot corner.