Nationals Baseball: Off-Season Position Discussion : Second Base

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Off-Season Position Discussion : Second Base

Last year discussion revisited

Something that will be apparent as we run through this is that the Nats were not very good in a lot of places in 2019.  But they were so good with the starting pitching and in a couple other places and no one in the NL other than the Dodgers were overall great that the Nats rose to the cream of the non-Dodger crop. Second base was one of those not very good positions.

After a bit of back and forth, second base became mostly Dozier's spot with a late season Asdrubal Cabrera run.  Dozier rebounded from a disappointing 2018 featuring a dismal late season/ playoff run to be kind of average. He was ok in the field again and hit acceptably at the plate. His big time power seemed gone (20 homers in the 2019 environment is not impressive, even in 135 games), but enough remained that with some patience he wasn't a hole. Still it wasn't good hitting so when Howie could play there Howie did play there (and hit as usual) and later Asdrubal basically took the position from him. All in all as a catchall position second worked out to be about average but Dozier had to be carried the last few steps there. Dozier heads to FA and really whether he comes back or not is only a big deal if they don't bother to figure out a plan to replace his averageness.

More importantly for 2020 - a trial run for Carter Kieboom went spectacularly bad. He hit .128 with no two homers as his only XBH and 16 strikeouts in 43 PAs. The hope for the Nats, that Kieboom would roll into the line-up as at least a starting player like guys like Turner (for Desmond), Soto (for Bryce) and Robles (for the gaping CF hole) did was not met. This leaves the Nats in a bit of a bad position.

My OOB idea (trading for Merrifield and Sal Perez, re-sign Bryce) would have been fun and good and cost you Kieboom and Robles but the Nats would have been very damn good last year. Of course it's a fantasy land trade.

Presumed Plan : Kieboom gets his run.  Nats bring in a solid back-up in case that plan fails. Kendrick or Dozier would work fine if they can make it happen. Along with Dozier, Starlin Castro, Johnathon Schoop, and Jason Kipnis are fringy starters who would make excellent back-ups. There seems to be enough middling talent out there to repeat last year's aaproach which waited out the early market then pounced in January on the best available with a reasonable one-year deal.

Reasoning on Presumed Plan : The Nats like to find out things early and Kieboom is developmentally at the stage where he should get a long run in the majors to see if he can hang. He hit fine in Fresno last year not letting the bad MLB experience get to him which is good and at an old 22* . If he is ready that goes a long way to cementing a position for the Nats who looking forward only have a couple of spots (CF, LF) covered for more than a couple of years with good young talent. 

The Nats also need to find out what they have in Kieboom in part to figure out what to do with Luis Garcia, another 2B prospect and going into last year probably their 2nd best overall prospect behind Kieboom.  Garcia struggled a bit in 2019, and did again down the stretch in the Fall League, but is another real young guy (20 next May) so has a good 2-3 years left to straighten out.  If he does that, and Kieboom is usable, that is a problem - but a good one. They need then to figure out where everyone goes, or if they use someone to get say... a young starter?

Anyway - it all starts with Kieboom. But you can't rely on him being good, especially after last year so you bring in a guy to back him up that you'd be ok with starting. FA seems to have a glut of middling talent here so they should be able to find someone here. 

Problems with Presumed Plan : Sure he hit in Fresno last year. It's the PCL. Everyone hits.  His .903 OPS was 4th on the team and just ahead of Andrew Stevenson who we've seen enough of to know he's not a real good hitter. He was better than average at a young age but nothing in particular makes you think he'll be a star. Competent major leaguer is more likely the end point for Kieboom. That's fine but it's not what they were hoping for.

If he takes a couple more years to find his footing, which is possible giving the lack of overwhelming talent, he will give you a below average option at second. Then you probably have a choice between Kieboom and his below average run and the veteran back-up who's likely a little better but still below average.  Basically you are setting up this position, at least in 2020, to be below average. There's hope for better but not expectations.

My take : This is the position to short change. You need to see what Kieboom can do so let him. There are so many options in the market that you can probably get an ok guy like the ones I mentioned, cheap, and a decent player dirt cheap. Also that means there will likely be a whole set of replacement options available in August if the position doesn't work out and the Nats are heading for the playoffs again.

Second base isn't the star turn position right now.  Try Carter. Hope he works out or Garcia has a breakout minor league season and sets himself up for 2021. In the meantime make sure all the other positions are secure. Bring back Rendon and Strasburg, make the better compromise at first (Frazier) and platoon catcher and get some pen guys.

Out of the box suggestion :

Move Turner over to 2B. Empty the miors for Lindor. He's arbitration cheap for a few years and a great SS and Turner, who's a solid SS, would likely be a great 2B. Yes this basically ends the long term run for the Nats as their minors would be bereft of talent, but with the pitching staff the age it is aiming for the next 3 years makes more sense then trying to figure out how this works long term or praying another Soto like star drops in their lap.

*remember July 1st is the cutoff date for ages and for me "OLD" is turning the age sometime July-Oct of the previous year and "YOUNG" is turning it sometime Apr-June of the current year.  Older you get the less it matters but I like to not it for guys under 25 coming up.  Next year Kieboom will be an old 22 (he'll turn 23 in season) and Garcia will be a young 20 (he'll start the season at 19)


coolsny said...

??? Kieboom hit 2 HRs.

Harper said...

Shoot I read it real quick and assumed the 0 0 were 3B and HR. Didn't think he hit no DOUBLES.

mike k said...

Harper I agree with your presumed plan.

I'm not as low on Kieboom. I haven't really watched him outside of his short MLB stint, so I admit I have no idea what I'm talking about, but at least looking at his stats, this is someone who succeeded at the next level every year he was in the system. 2017 A- and A ball, success. Called up to A+ then AA in 2018, success. 2019 was AAA, success. It doesn't bother me that he didn't hit the world on fire in the majors when he had less than a full year in AA prior. I am cautiously optimistic that he is a long term answer at 2B.

Your Lindor trade idea is....intriguing. Probably makes more sense to try and develop Garcia and then trade an infielder for a young starter, as you said. Actually having Garcia and Kieboom both work out helps solve a lot of can trade for a starting pitcher (which they will need), you can let Turner walk when he's a free agent (I don't like this idea but it exists), or, if you can't resign Rendon and get someone like Donaldson, then you don't have to worry when he ages out. Ideally, however, I think you resign Rendon, resign Turner in 3 years, try and develop Garcia, and then trade someone for pitching. More likely someone of the four fails, but that's ok since you only need to cover three spots. That being said, the Lindor idea sounds tasty, but I think the Indians probably find a better offer than what the Nats have to give right now. Also, Rizzo's MO is the long term approach over going all-in on certain years. Not saying he wouldn't do it...Lindor is still young, so this trade would be very similar to the Eaton trade - and look what we gave up for a less valuable player - actually I don't think the Nats could land Lindor even if they wanted to TBH.

coolsny said...

Yeah I also think our farm wouldn't be enough for Lindor when compared to other teams going after him with better farms...

love the idea though if it could happen

Anonymous said...

Does the "Frasier and Eaton hate each other" plotline that surfaced this season at all impact the team's willingness to bring him on?

Ryan said...

yeah, Frazier is not joining a team with Eaton

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper I have to tell you. I like the Lindor idea. I like it very much.

To those saying we don’t have enough. We definitely do have enough if we actually wanted to do it. Lindor only has 2 years of control left and arb prices. That will take a haul, but it’s not like Eaton, where you had like 5 years of CHEAP contract prices. Sure Lindor is twice as good as Eaton. But they’re not comparable. Lindor would probably require Kieboom, Jackson Rutledge, Denaburg, and Garcia. Something like that. You’d be giving up a lot of potential. Probably one of those guys will be a star and one will be a solid regular or rotation arm. But I kind of like the Lindor idea. The one reason the Indians might not do it isn’t because we don’t have enough total’s because we don’t have that much of it in the majors, and they may want people who can help now. So for example they may prefer to trade Lindor for, say, Trea Turner, Kieboom, and Garcia. I don’t think I would do something like that. I imagine the team the Indians are eyeing as possibly willing to give them what they want is the Dodgers (shift Seager to 3B and turner to 1B and send a Gavin Lux or Dustin May-led package.

Kubla said...

If they go for a cheaper guy, I hope they get Kipnis. I like his walkup music.

DezoPenguin said...

Yeah, the presumed plan sounds about right. Give Kieboom his shot, and have somebody else around to plug in if it doesn't work out. Somebody like Cabrera would be perfect, though given his stretch performance for the Nats AsCab probably wants another starting job if someone will give him one.

My Plan B would be to sign someone like Cabrera or Schoop to a 2-year deal to hold the spot for Garcia and trade Kieboom for...something. Ship him to Boston with Eaton and some friends for Betts. Or, heck, Harper's OOB idea works for this too--trade Kieboom and pitching prospects for Lindor, move Trea, and presto, Lindor's there for that same 2-year window.

All of this (except the Lindor plan) requires that 3B be dealt with in some kind of assertive fashion, which means Rendon, Donaldson, or Moustakas--and nothing worse than that. If we're using 2B to either try out a rookie or play a vet in the "solid but he ain't hitting higher than 6th" range, then we need substantial production from 3B to add to Soto.

coolsny said...

Here's a question -

would you take the OOB plan, and go truly ALL IN for Lindor's remaining couple years of control, completely bankrupt Nats' talent future, for potential deep playoff runs in '20 and '21, and then waste the rest of Soto and Robles' career?

Are the two mutually exclusive?

Jay said...

Two things. I think you have bring back Strasburg and Rendon imo. I don't think Kieboom anywhere but second base is a good idea. I agree I would have someone like Dozier, Kendrick, or Cabrera around to platoon between first and second. Two, I have to admit that I was wrong on Eaton. I hated that trade. However, Eaton was a big part of their run in the playoffs - especially in the World Series. I hear someone banging on a trash can. I have to go.

DezoPenguin said...

Gerardo Parra signed with the Yomiuri Giants of NPB. Here's hoping he gets a chance to start and does well in Japan. I can't lie; I'm going to miss the Parra Shark, but really that was one of those things that fits well in with the "one-time phenomenon" and the narrative of how the Nats started to turn it around (he really did have some big hits to help start the #comebackstory and all that when he first came over), and he was really just an OF5 candidate in terms of actual on-the-field baseball.

Still a sad moment, because it represents the initial confirmation that 2019 was a one-time thing and that if the Nats are going to succeed again next year it will have to be on the strength of new moves and the hard work of building the best roster possible with brains and dollars.

Nattydread said...

@DezoPenguin We'll all miss G Parra. His performance in DC enabled him to cash in with a Japanese contract. His salary gets boosted by a factor of 8! He takes a WS ring with him.

In a way, this is a blessing. It would be hard for him to do repeat what he did at his age. It was a great one-time ride.

2020 Nats will be a different team, with the difficult task of defending a title. Looking forward to the coming months.

Chaos56 said...

I liked Boswell's article today about how the Parra deal is best for everybody. Like Nattydread says, he gets a ring and gets paid. The Nats don't have to do any explaining to overwrought fans about breaking up the gang. For the most part, I think all reasonable fans expect a different team next year.

That said, I think the Nats are going to try hard to keep both Strasburg and Rendon, but if they can't keep Rendon I think it's far more likely they go with a proven vet at 3b and give Carter his shot at 2nd. I expect he's going to do much better the second time around, with 1 or 2 WAR.