Nationals Baseball: Offseason Position Discussion Third Base

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Offseason Position Discussion Third Base

I elect... to talk about Anthony Rendon! HAHAHAHHSHAHSHAHS

I'm terrible.

Last Year's Discussion

We had Rendon starting because it seemed to be the direction the Nats were heading. Remember in 2015 Rendon played 2B because Yuney was at 3B to start the year and didn't want to change.  Man the 2015 Nats were stupid about things.  We worried a little bit about Rendon's extensive injury history but realized that without a doubt he should be in the lineup somewhere. 2B gave them more options in theory but 3B was fine and probably where he belonged in a perfect world.

A lot of the problems with Rendon at third weren't about him, but about Yuney who was still on the roster at the time and needed a place to play. You put Rendon at 3B and Yuney probably moves to SS? That isn't good. But neither was 2B or anything really.  But hey! It didn't end up being an issue. Yuney was dealt.

Rendon started very slowly. Thirty games in you had reason to begin to worry. He was down to .218 / .289 / .297 in Early May.  But after that point Rendon hit like he did in 2014, putting up a  .287 / .364 / .494 line. Unfortunately things ended poorly - he hit only .150 in the playoffs. Still you look at that 130 game run that was like his fringy MVP year in 2014 and his continued plus fielding and you have to feel good about the future.

My OOB plan was trading Giolito (as usual) for Arenando. That would have worked out fine but any out of the box plan for the infield means not signing Murphy and Murphy was the best so basically the Nats plan was the best.

Presumed Plan  
Rendon starts at 3B.  Espinosa is the bench replacement for this and all IF positions.

Reasoning on Presumed Plan  
We talked about how Espy ended up on the bench with the SS discussion. There's been some talk about how he's not a great bench guy but you can't let a guys feelings effect whether he starts or not. If he can't handle being on the bench you trade him then.

As for why Rendon plays 3B, well I think we just covered it. He's most comfortable at third base. The stats and scouts agree, he fields the position really well. He can hit really well when healthy.  At this point he hasn't turned the corner from his .285 20 HR very good bat to something more special, but he's hitting his prime (27 in June) and if he can stay healthy this will be his first back to back healthy major league seasons so there's hope for that too.

We had talked before about moving Rendon to 2B because he can play there and it frees up 3B, an easier position to fill. Now though Daniel Murphy is at 2B so this isn't an issue. This is an obvious move.

Problems with Presumed Plan  
The biggest issue with Rendon is the obvious one. He gets hurt. A lot. He basically hasn't had back to back healthy years since starting college? High school? So expecting him to be healthy for all of 2017 is more than just your normal gamble.

As much as we can focus on the 130 games where he hit like he did in his best year, we can't deny those first 30 games happened.  If you want to be real pessimistic you can look at the last 2 seasons and see a guy that might be an average hitter, not an above average one.

It is arguable that it still makes sense to play Rendon at 2B, even with Murphy.  Murphy would then move to 1B, Zimm would sit and your offense and defense would be better.

My Take 
Yes, Rendon gets hurt a lot. What, are you not going to play him? He's young enough you can still hope that he puts that behind him - at least for the next couple of years.  He's good enough that you can't give up on him

Yes, you can spin it so he doesn't look like a very good hitter. But (1) even as just an average hitter his plus fielding makes him a startable third baseman and (2) it's a lot easier to spin it to make him look like a very good hitter. He got injured - hit worse - got healthy - hit better. That makes sense right?

As for playing him at 2B and Murphy at 1B - ok that can be argued as a 3B is easier to find than a 2B. But you know what's easier to find than a 3B? A 1B - so just replace Zimm and let your plus fielding 3B stay at 3B.

Out of the Box Idea
Trade Rendon.  If Rendon has another injured year his value will take another hit and worse you have to start thinking about how he can't be part of the future. 2017 will be partially lost as will 2018 in a way as he recovers. If you do feel like you have to move on with him then you can deal him but you'd be dealing him off of injury. Even with controllable cheap years on hand the return won't be great.  

But now he's coming off a healthy year. He has a lot of value. So maybe go for a flip. Of course trading Rendon means you are causing a problem so you definitively have to solve one in the trade. What about Rendon (plus?) for Jackie Bradley Jr? Benintendi can play CF. Devers, a question at time at 3B, could move to 1B or into the OF.  I hate making the Red Sox better but doesn't Rendon kind of feel like a Red Sox player? Plus I think we'd all be happy to solve CF for the next 5 years and JBJ would likely do that. Age wise it's a near match. Contract wise the Nats get an extra year - hence the plus question. Again OOB means unlikely to happen for various reasons (like Red Sox might be better served keeping OF as is and hoping Devers fits in at 3B) but it's an idea.


G Cracka X said...

What makes Rendon 'kind of feel like a Red Sox player'?

Harper said...

I don't know - something about his look makes me think about him in a Red Sox jersey.

JE34 said...

I think Stephen Drew really needs to be re-signed. Injury risks with T2B... Espy capable of an 0-for-Summer slump... even missing the time he did, Drew was very valuable.

Harper must feel a big Rendon injury coming on, which he subconsciously - and consciously - wants to inflict upon the Sawx.

Ole PBN said...

Not sure why everyone seems so high on JBJ from Boston. If you only started paying attention this year or just look at his stat line, I guess I understand. But this guy looked like he was on a Roger Bernadina trajectory by the close of 2015. Flailing at the plate and looking utterly helpless. I was surprised Boston gave him a shot. I follow that team almost as much as I do the Nats and I gotta say. I wouldn't trade Rendon for JBJ, just my take. I'd give them Taylor and a prospect, but the Sox won't do that deal, nor should they - so - moving on...

Fries said...

I agree with JE34, you ABSOLUTELY need to re-sign Drew. Too valuable/versatile a piece. I'd love Espy to become Drew, but, as has been mentioned, he doesn't do well on the bench mentally.

I like Tony 2 Bags, I'm holding out hope he doesn't get injured, but I know I'm a fool for doing so. If I were Rizzo, I'd go out and get a player who can play both corners to replace Zimm, then have Zimm play 1B whenever Rendon inevitably gets injured. But I don't see the Nats moving Zimm to the bench, so this will never happen.

Anonymous said...

I've always thought of Rendon as a Dodger.

mike k said...

I prefer Espinosa to Drew as a backup (I refuse to take into consideration his whining), and as an injury replacement starter. Though he might be more expensive. I think that if you have Espinosa, you don't need Drew - you don't need two super-IF subs on your bench (I'm assuming in this scenario Trea moves to short), and Wilmer Difo can be the super-IF sub if Espinosa starts due to injury.

It's Rendon's facial hair.

Nattydread said...

That Afro he sported for a day or two was very cool. He has a great attitude.

Josh Higham said...

Rendon moved himself squarely into the conversation for Best Nats Hair with the fro on October 2. For that alone, I'd have a hard time letting him go.

Harper said...

Ole PBN - JBJ is a plus fielder in center with plus power. As long as his average is around .250 he's going to be above average. Think Danny with a little more patience and .30 pts better average. I don't think he'll make any more steps up (which would make him a star) but can he be this good for the rest of his cheap deal? yep. And that's value. Rendon is a better hitter but he has the sword of Damocles hanging over him at all times

(Bernandina was an average OF who looked better than he fielded. He had even less patience and very limited power)

SM said...

I think the Nats should give that Damocles guy his outright release.

JE34 said...

...or reinforce the string that's holding up the stupid sword.

Ole PBN said...

@ Harper - agree to disagree. All of what you said was based on last year (aside from his defense, which as always been good). Yeah, with those numbers, of course he's going to be above average. The proof is in the pudding that last year was an anomaly. Not sure what makes you project him with 20+ bombs and other Nats a little more pessimistic (realistic)?

SM said...

Ole PBN--

A point of clarification: Why is Rendon's 2016 season an anomaly, rather than 2015?

Chas R said...

easiest post you ever have done Harper?

G Cracka X said...

Does Trea Turner have a reverse sword of Damocles hanging over him?

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