The Nationals will enter the season with Starlin Castro as their everyday third baseman. Josh Harrison will get most of the starts at second, per Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). Veterans Jordy Mercer and Hernan Perez will back them up. The latter duo had just 28 plate appearances between them in 2020. This wasn’t exactly the plan as designed for how to replace Anthony Rendon, who is finally recognized as one of the best in the game at the hot corner.
Unfortunately, Carter Kieboom hasn’t totally turned the corner after tying for the 10-lowest ISO mark (.010 ISO) among batters with at least 100 plate appearances in the past twenty seasons. Among those in the bottom-10, three promptly retired, while others continued on as rarely-used bench players. Take it for what you will, then, that a Kieboom resurgence still likely presents the highest possible ceiling of the options available. For now, the Nats will trudge forward with their cadre of veterans. This might not be a short-term solution, however. Manager Dave Martinez said he wants Castro at third because he’s going to play everyday and he doesn’t want to move him around, per Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post (via Twitter). Martinez prefers Harrison’s range at second. Meanwhile, we’re just three days from opening day…
- Former Nationals Wilmer Difo and Brian Goodwin were reassigned to minor league camp along with right-hander Steven Wright, the Pirates announced today. Right-hander Geoff Hartlieb has also been optioned to the minors. That means Anthony Alford likely starts the year as the starting centerfielder, notes Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, with Dustin Fowler backing up all three outfield spots. Alford, 26, jumps right into a regular role after experiencing mere cups of coffee in the four years prior. Going back to his debut with the Blue Jays in 2017, here are Alford’s season totals for plate appearances: 8, 21, 30, and 29.
- Tommy Edman will be the Cardinals’ backup centerfielder to start the season, per Jeff Jones of MLB.com (via Twitter). Tyler O’Neill will line up after him. Harrison Bader’s injury has certainly thrown a bit of a wrench into the Cardinals defensive alignment. With Bader, St. Louis was preparing an otherworldly defensive unit: Paul Goldschmidt is a three-time Gold Glove winner at first; Yadier Molina is a nine-time winner and the consensus best defensive catcher of his generation; Paul DeJong has been frozen out of award season, but he’s been easily among the NL’s best defensive shortstops in recent seasons; ditto for Bader in center, while O’Neill posted 9 DRS in left last season; Nolan Arenado, of course, has never not won the Gold Glove. Not mentioned there, Carlson and Edman, who are, apparently, capable of shifting to centerfield at a moment’s notice. No matter who mans center, it seems, the Cards plan on catching the baseball.