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Washington Nationals: Options at Second Base

Nationals

The Washington Nationals have been busy this winter trying to build the team to contend after a disastrous 2018 season. They strengthened the pitching staff by adding Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez. The front office then fortified the catching position by trading for Yan Gomes and resigning Kurt Suzuki. To top it off they signed Trevor Rosenthal and traded for Kyle Barraclough to help out the bullpen. The biggest hole left besides resigning Bryce Harper would be to add a second baseman. Here are a few options the Nationals should consider for second base.

Sign D.J. Lemahieu

WASHINGTON, DC – April 12: DJ LeMahieu #9 of the Colorado Rockies hits lead off a solo home run in the first inning during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images). Image Courtesy of The Denver Post

Lemahieu is a three-time Gold Glove winner and two-time All-Star. The thirty-year-old is coming off a down year at the plate but is still one of the better fielding second baseman. For all qualified second baseman in 2018, Lemahieu was second in DWAR and first in fielding percentage.

Signing Lemahieu is a gamble due to him having disastorous home and away splits. He benefited from playing at Coors field. Last year Lemahieu hit .317 at home, but just .229 on the road. Washington needs an upgrade at second base, but Lemahieu might be what they already have. Wilmer Difo, the Nationals current second baseman, is one of the best fielders at his position. But like Lemahieu, he is coming off of a down year at the plate. In 2017, Difo hit  .271 but, only .230 in 2018.  In 2017 Lemahieu hit .310 ,but only .276 in 2018. Some of this was due to injuries but leaving Coors field is going to affect his bat.

Lemahieu would be a great addition to the offense but, he is currently looking for more than the Nationals should spend.

Sign Josh Harrison

Nationals
Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Josh Harrison. Image Courtesy of Pittsburgh City Paper.

Harrison is a hot commodity right now. According to MLB Trade Rumors, eight teams have interest in the 31-year-old. Last year, he hit .250 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  In the field, he had a .982 fielding percentage and only committed six errors. He suffered multiple injuries but was still an above average player. Harrison would be a cheaper option than Lemahieu and would allow for Carter Kieboom to continue to develop in the minors. He might be the best decision because the team can win now while the second baseman of the future isn’t rushed.

 

Wait for Carter Kieboom

Image Courtesy of Inside NoVa.com.

Carter Kieboom is the number 37 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Kieboom hit .280 between Single and Double-A last year.

According to MLB.com, “Kieboom has a knack for barreling the baseball, a product of his plus bat speed, hand-eye coordination and mature approach. He was aggressive to a fault at times and showed some swing-and-miss tendencies during his pro debut, though his approach appeared more refined in 2017, leading scouts to project him as a future above-average hitter. Kieboom gets good loft to his right-handed swing, too, so much so that he should have at least average power once he fills out physically. Kieboom’s average speed plays up thanks to his quick feet and excellent instincts. Those tools, along with his solid range and above-average arm strength, give him a chance to stick at shortstop, although some believe he’ll eventually end up at third base. Regardless of his ultimate defensive home, it will be Kieboom’s bat that gets him to the big leagues.”

Kieboom is at least two years away so the team would end up sticking with Wilmer Difo and Howie Kendrick as stop gags. Kendrick tore his Achilles last season, so he won’t be 100% for a while. Washington would be hoping Difo can return to his 2017 offensive self if they decide to wait.  Trea Turner has shortstop locked up for the foreseeable future, so a change to second for the 21-year-old makes sense. Waiting for Kieboom would the most cost-effective method, but adding a second baseman would help the team win now.

Feature Image From Federal Baseball.

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