The Nationals will call up top position-player prospect Trea Turner, as the Talk Nats blog first reported on Twitter. He’ll join the club tomorrow, per MLB.com’s Bill Ladson (via Twitter), likely taking the active roster spot of first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who is going on paternity leave.
Given that Zimmerman will only miss a few days, it’s not yet clear how long Turner will be up. It could be that he’ll just fill in temporarily at second base, with Daniel Murphy shifting to first, as MLB.com’s Jamal Collier suggests on Twitter.
But it’s certainly possible that this represents the beginning of Turner’s first full trial in D.C., which could have important repercussions for this season and the future. The Nats have relied on a combination of Danny Espinosa and Stephen Drew at shortstop. While that makes for a solid defensive pairing, the two have combined for an ugly .194/.281/.347 batting line on the year.
Turner, meanwhile, has improved upon the already-strong results he posted in his first attempt at Triple-A in 2015. He only managed nine hits in 44 plate appearances at the big league level in his brief call-up last year, but has put to rest any questions as to whether he’s due for another chance. Over 222 plate appearances at Syracuse in 2016, Turner owns a .310/.376/.472 batting line with three home runs and 17 steals.
The division-leading Nats aren’t exactly in need of a boost, as the club is off to a promising 33-and-21 start. But going to Turner now would allow the organization to get a firm idea of its middle infield mix in advance of the summer trade deadline. Were it not for the presence of Turner, the Nationals could well be considered a plausible buyer at the shortstop position over the next two months.
It’s important to note, too, that service time is no longer a compelling consideration for the team. After entering the season with 45 days on his ledger, Turner will not be able to tally a full season even if he remains active the rest of the way. That means that Washington can deploy him in the majors for all of this season while still controlling him through the 2022 campaign.
Turner came to D.C. along with Joe Ross in the three-team deal that sent Wil Myers to the Padres from the Rays, who in turn picked up Steven Souza from the Nats (among other players changing hands). With Ross providing strong contributions at the game’s highest level in his age-22 and 23 seasons, the deal already looks good from Washington’s perspective. If Turner successfully transitions to the majors, it could prove to be a coup.