When the Nationals lost their star shortstop, Ian Desmond, this past offseason to the Rangers, the plan in the minds of many was for them to place their star prospect, Trea Turner, right into that role from Opening Day this year to see him perform. However, Turner was instead sent to Triple-A, with Danny Espinosa getting the nod in place of Turner.
That would turn out to pay off big for the Nationals.
Although Espinosa is hitting just .241 on the year, he has already recorded 18 homers — just three shy of his career-high of 21, back in 2011 — with over two months still remaining in the season. But what Espinosa has been doing as of late has been even more impressive.
Over the course of his last four games, Espinosa has notched 5 homers and 15 RBI’s, all while playing good defense, and proving himself more than capable of maintaining the shortstop role for the foreseeable future.
But while that’s good news for Espinosa as well as the Nationals, who have won 7 of their last 10 and are 17 games over .500 with a comfortable lead over the second-place Mets, it’s not so good news for Trea Turner.
Despite hitting .299 with 5 homers and 32 RBI’s, including 22 stolen bases to boot, this season in the minors, Turner has only played in two games at the big league level in 2016, going 3-3 in his time up. But with Espinosa playing so well, Turner’s path is blocked.
To solve this, the idea presented by many around the baseball world has been to move Turner into the outfield, where the Nationals could use some help in center. In recent games, the Nationals have been attempting just that, playing Turner in center field at Triple-A; looking to give him a path to Ben Revere’s spot, where despite going 4-5 in a game recently, Revere is hitting just .215 on the year.
Turner would obviously be an improvement.
In the end, although Trea Turner was projected to be the next big thing at shortstop, you simply can’t replace Espinosa who is tearing the cover off the ball this season. But on the flip side, it’s also not fair to Turner to leave him down in Triple-A, where he is doing his fair share of raking.
The Nationals certainly have a predicament on their hands.
But I’ve never heard a team complain about having too much talent.