Nationals Baseball: Offseason Position Discussion : Shortstop

Monday, November 23, 2020

Offseason Position Discussion : Shortstop

 Last Year's Discussion

Trea Turner is the Nats shortstop until he gets hurt, traded, or leaves in free agency.  He's good. He's cheap. After a perfectly decent 2019 there were no questions other than could he stay healthy as he missed another 40 games in 2019 keeping 2018 as his only full season. 

In 2020 Turner was healthy the whole way and had his best season ever.  Some of that is a high BABIP but it's certainly not too high. Walk rate is good. K-rate is down. Most importantly he showed a lot more power than he had in the past.  There was a little glimpse of that last year as he went from 27 2B, 6 3B and 19 HR in 162 games in 2018 to 37 2B, 5 3B, and 19 HR in 122 games.  He kept improving hitting 15 2B, 4 3B, and 12 HR in last years limited season which would translate to like 40 doubles, 10 triples, and 31 homers in a full season.  31! That's big boy numbers!

Trea's defense was about how it always has been. So the loss of Rendon didn't particularly do anything.

Presumed Plan : Turner starts at SS.  His back-up is any number of guys but Kieboom is probably most likely unless they sign a FA.

Reasoning on Presumed Plan : Turner last year was one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball.  Even if that's a fluke of the short season he's been improving and you'd expect him to be at least better than average. And really you are hoping it's not a fluke because Soto could really use another star bat in the line-up to help him out. Seeing that power go up while the peripherals go down is very encouraging. It means it's not an swing for the fences approach that's giving him his power.

His defense has been passable for the Nats and the fans think he's pretty good. 

Money wise he's still underpaid

Good, cheap, and can play the spot? This is an easy call. 

Problems with Presumed Plan : Nats fans have always overrated Trea's defense. From the early years when he was good and fans believed he was great, to now where he's not good and fans believe he is. He's aging out of the role. 

Hitting wise we might get be getting a little ahead of ourselves if we're thinking Trea's a star.  He could be - the trends are good, he's shown flashes before - but it could also be that fluke and he could merely be a decent bat. That's a problem not for him starting but for building around him in a cornerstone of the line-up sort of way. 

He does get injured pretty frequently with only ~1.5 (counting 2020) full seasons. 

My take :  There's no surprise here. You start Trea, but you don't quite plan around him being anything beyond a good player who can hold down SS for 140 games.  You hope he's great at the plate and good in the field. Worst case he's good at the plate and below average in the field. Likely he's somewhere inbetween but even if he hits the worst case, it's not enough to make him not worth his money or not a good player.  

Back-up doesn't particularly matter because since Trea is good he's going to play as much as possible. Yes, we do have to worry about injury but for the most part he's been healthy enough across the past three years so I don't think you have to take that into account. If he misses a month - oh well.  If he misses more - that's not a surprise but it's also one of those things that you just have to accept. Like Max going down at anytime given his age.  You can't bring in a full-time good SS to sit behind Trea.  Better is making that re-sign of AsCab and then if things happen to Trea and other guys hold their ground he fills in there. 

This is not a problem position. 


blovy8 said...

If Turner gets hurt, Garcia is an adequate option already

Harper said...

adequate but they seem him long term at second (hopefully - maybe even third depending on how he ages) and was off enough there last year that they want to give him a lot of time at 2nd.

DezoPenguin said...

A bit early, but what do you think about Eddie Rosario as a possible RF candidate? He has warts, certainly (low OBP being the big one), but he can provide a solid expectation of power in a lineup that badly needs some. He's no LaMahieu or Realmuto, but those players will cost what they're worth and we probably aren't inclined to pay it any more that we are to sign Trevor Bauer to be our fourth starter (no matter how much Soto tweets about it).

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

If the Nats go out and get a power bat, I'm still convinced it'll be Bryant. Cubs are looking to rebuild hard and fast, so I think the Nats should be able to pick him up without costing a ton. Probably cash plus draft picks and a flyer on a prospect. Given the Nats success (or lack thereof) in the draft lately, I'm perfectly content watching them dump picks. That leaves the window open for one more year, which is probably all you can expect at this point.

But I'll reiterate as I have on previous posts, I think the Nats are foolish to not do a soft rebuild this year. This FA class is mediocre at best, so dump some players to build back up the farm a bit, sign filler FAs, put a team out there that'll win 75 games, and then next offseason go for the splash. If you want to make any big moves this offseason, it should be to extend Soto and Turner. But I don't see that happening so Bryant is the next best thing

Ole PBN said...

Anyone catch Chris Davis' comments on his contract? I'll recap: “I’m not going anywhere. I’m not giving up. I’m not throwing in the towel. I understand the club is in a position right now to where they’re trying to cut payroll, and I’m the one big lump that they’re kind of stuck with. But they knew what they were signing up for when they took the job.”

To be fair, Chris... I don't think Baltimore knew they were signing up for the prospect of having the worst first basemen I have seen in years. Ooo lawd - that one made me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Well, you weren't privy to the negotiations around that contract.

It's possible that everyone went in, eyes wide open, expecting a cumulative line of .187/.274/.350 over 1500 PAs for the first 5 years of the deal and likely looking at 6 of the 7 years checking in below replacement value. That's a reasonable return for $160 million, right? A tanking in style kind of thing.

But really what else can this guy do? Give the money back? He's going to keep trying until they cut him. As he should, and as I expect almost any of us would. If anyone is behaving badly here, it's Angelos by refusing to accept this is a sunk cost.

I suppose it would be honorable for Davis to allow them to buy him out for 90 cents on the dollar or something, but until owners start giving 8 figure bonuses for overperformance, I'm going to feel a little bit of glee whenever I see albatross contracts like this.

I don't give two shits if Angelos is worth 2.1 billion or 2.2 billion dollars. And while I don't care much more if Chris Davis has 50 million or 100 million, I'm rooting for the (relative) little guy.

Chaos56 said...

Merry Christmas, Harper!......wherever you are......

For Christmas, I'd like Michael Brantley. I'll settle for JT Realmuto.

Chaos56 said...

Josh Bell. I love it. Cheap, 2 years of control, prime age. His All-Star year he crushed RHP at a 1.002 clip. Bring back Zimm to spell him against some LHP and we have a platoon. Was 2019 an outlier? Sure, but hey it's the time of year to dream big.

G Cracka X said...

Merry Christmas Harper! What do you think of the Josh Bell trade?

DezoPenguin said...

Bell...relatively cheap, has notable power, switch-hitter but much better against righties so justifies a platoon with Zim if the Nats and Zim want to do the farewell tour thing. Had a down 2020, so hopefully that's not a trend that will continue. (We don't want another Thames, an otherwise perfectly good player who fell off a cliff for us in 2020.)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think I like it fine. Especially if we get Zimm in to platoon, which I think is likely the plan.

Bell's not a great player, and I feel like we gave fair value in the trade, but it improves the team in the immediate term at an acceptable cost. I did not see any better ideas for first.