The cycle Trea Turner hit on his birthday came with a price tag. The first home run for Jordy Mercer in a Washington Nationals uniform did as well. In the matter of two days the Nationals have had Alex Avila, a catcher by nature, at second base and Humberto Arteaga and his 41 games of experience, at shortstop.
Wanting a more veteran presence the Nationals swung a trade with the Kansas City Royals, acquiring infielder Alcides Escobar for cash considerations.
The Washington Nationals have acquired some infield depth by trading for Alcides Escobar.
The cupboards are barren for the Nationals at Triple-A with both Luis Garcia and Adrian Sanchez on the Injured List. Carter Kieboom was also unavailable as he deals with knee issues.
With a crucial stretch of games leading to the All-Star break, the Nationals want to make sure they are playing at full strength. Having to utilize a 34 year old with over 7000 innings behind the plate and no middle infield experience, at second base is not ideal. While Avila handled both the chances he was a part of, and Arteaga drove in a run in his first game (something it took Mercer 40 games to do in his Nationals tenure), the Nationals decided they needed a more veteran presence.
Turner jammed his finger sliding into third base as he completed hitting for the cycle against the Tampa Bay Rays. The lineup is not going to be the same without him, regardless of who takes his spot. Mercer is not a power hitter, though had been hitting at a .270 clip this year before a quad injury put him on the Injured List.
Arteaga, who carries a .197 Major League batting average in just over one hundred at-bats, and a .227 at Triple-A Rochester this year, was never going to be the long term answer.
As for Escobar, he doesn’t hit for power either. He is a former All-Star and Gold Glove winner, who can handle the glove well. He is a career .258 hitter with nearly 1500 games played at the big league level.
Going with the more experienced hand was the right move to make for the Nationals. The infield needs to get healthy throughout the organization. Though until it does, Escobar can hold down the fort.