Washington Nationals: Is Now The Time To Call Up Luis García?
By Max Rayman
Luis García is hitting over .300 at AAA, while Alcides Escobar is hitting .132 with the Nats. Yet it may be too early to promote the former top prospect.
Seen as a future cornerstone of the franchise, it came as a surprise to some when the Washington Nationals decided to have former top prospect Luis García start the year at AAA. He had already spent parts of the last two seasons in the MLB, hitting .254, with eight homers, 38 RBIs, and an OPS of .680 in 370 ABs.
Only 21, García had shown some flashes, but struggled defensively — posting -2 and -4 DRS at second and short respectively. This led to Washington deciding to go in favor of veteran Alcides Escobar, who slashed .288/.340/.404 in 75 games for the Nats last season.
Unsurprisingly, the veteran has been unable to recreate his 2021 success and has been a liability on all ends of the field for Washington. The veteran is hitting .132 for the Nats, with two RBIs, and an OPS of .358 in 15 games. His decision-making on the basepaths has been abysmal — most notably being thrown out attempting to steal third with two outs and Juan Soto up to bat in last week’s game against the Diamondbacks. A Gold Glover early on in his career, Escobar has been anything but — posting -5 DRS and a -0.7 UZR at short.
García on the other hand has red hot and the plate and already earned Player of the Week honors. In 16 games, he’s hitting .324, with two homers, eight RBIs, and an OPS of 875.
Manager Dave Martinez has been pleased with his improvement at the plate, but is keeping an eye on the other aspects of his game.
“He’s been hitting the ball really well,” Martinez said. “I talked to [Red Wings manager Matthew] LeCroy about him. He said he’s really hitting the ball; he’s working really good at-bats. The flip side is that he needs to get better on defense. We talked to him and he’s working, he’s working hard to get better. He’s working on his footwork, working on being a little bit quicker…setting his feet when he throws, things of that nature.”
Nats fans have been understandably irate with Escobar’s performance and want a change. He has the fifth-worst fWAR in the majors (-0.5), yet it may be too early to call up the youngster. The 21-year-old has committed errors in four of his first five games, adding merit to Martinez’s worries.
Offensively, he’s started to cool off, going 3-18 across his last four games, with all three hits coming in the same game. Despite his recent slump, García has proven he can rake at AAA, but needs to establish his bat can consistently translate to the majors.
He needs to soak up MLB experience, but is it worth it to risk stunting his defensive development? Escobar just went 0-11 in the weekend series against the Giants, but Martinez has yet to make any drastic moves, showing he still wants García to continue his growth. Seen as a longterm piece to the Nats rebuild, in the eyes of front office, the risk isn’t worth the short term return.