As the Nationals continue to explore their offseason trade options, the team is “definitely open” to including former top prospect Carter Kieboom in negotiations, The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli reports (Twitter links). Right-handed pitching prospects Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge, however, are not available.
Washington went into the 2020 season hoping Kieboom could step in as the new everyday third baseman, after Anthony Rendon left for the Angels in free agency. While nobody expected Kieboom to match Rendon’s All-Star level of production, the Nats surely hoped for more than the .202/.344/.212 slash line Kieboom delivered over 122 plate appearances. The lack of hitting led the Nationals to demote Kieboom to their alternate training site for just shy of two weeks, and his season was also shortened by a wrist injury in the final week of play.
Aside from a respectable OBP, there wasn’t much to like about Kieboom’s first extended taste of Major League action, as he didn’t make much hard contact and next to no power — Kieboom had the lowest slugging percentage of any player in baseball with at least 120 PA. However, Kieboom showed lots of pop in the minors, hitting .287/.378/.469 with 45 homers in 1462 PA in the Washington farm system after being drafted 28th overall in 2016.
Considering this prospect pedigree, Kieboom’s age (23) and the fact that the 2020 season was about the most difficult of possible circumstances for a younger player to acclimate himself to the big leagues, it is certainly very possible that Kieboom can break out in the near future. As such, Ghiroli notes that the Nationals surely aren’t going to “give him away” in any trade, if they were to deal him whatsoever. It’s probably safe to assume most teams also still see Kieboom as a valuable trade chip, so D.C. would only deal Kieboom as the centerpiece of a trade for an established MLB player — perhaps even at third base, to solidify that position.
Cavalli and Rutledge are widely seen as the top two prospects in a Washington farm system that is heavy on pitching, particularly right-handers. The sheer amount of depth makes it possible that the Nationals might be willing to discuss one of those less highly-regarded prospects (say, in the 5-10 range of their top ten list) but it also makes sense that they’re not budging on moving Cavalli or Rutledge, both first-round picks in the last two drafts.