For the second time this season, highly-touted prospect Trea Turner has been recalled by the Washington Nationals. This marks the third trip to the bigs for the shortstop who was on the fringes of the preseason top-10 prospect lists. Turner got the call when Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the disabled list with a strained left rib.
What remains unclear is how Turner will be used by the Nationals and whether or not he is part of the big-picture view for 2016. His service time has already been manipulated enough, and he can finish the year with the Nationals from here out without any concerns about team control. Manager Dusty Baker obviously has no idea what to do with the talented Turner who has batted well over .300 in his three minor-league seasons since being drafted in the first round out of NC State.
“Right now, Trea has to fit in where he get in,” Baker said. “Right now, there’s no real place for Trea to take. This isn’t a tryout camp. This is try to play the best team overall to win the game and win the pennant. Hopefully Trea will be a part of that while he’s here.”
While Baker is correct in stating that the big leagues are not a “tryout camp,” Turner is definitely worth an extended look for the first-place Nationals. Clint Robinson started for Zimmerman at first base in Friday night’s victory over the New York Mets and homered off Noah Syndergaard. Robinson, however, is not really a long-term solution at first, and it is unclear how long the injury-plagued Zimmerman will be out. Daniel Murphy should slide over to first with Turner taking over at second. This move allows the Nationals to upgrade their second-base defense while getting a dynamic player into the lineup.
Stephen Drew has been better than expected in his sporadic appearances for the Nationals, but Turner should not miss out on playing time because Dusty Baker is afraid to trust a youngster. The Nationals’ offense is functioning rather well thanks to Murphy, Wilson Ramos, and Bryce Harper. That’s helped hide the fact that Zimmerman, Ben Revere, and Michael Taylor have brought very little at the plate. Turner has easily showed more than enough in the minors to expect him to hit higher than .225.
Dusty Baker’s disdain for allowing an uber-prospect like Trea Turner to have an impact is troubling. Murphy at first and Turner at second is a far better option, both offensively and defensively, than Robinson (or Zimmerman for that matter) at first and Murphy at second. The Nationals have a comfortable grip on first place for now, and the Mets appear to be severely crippled. The Miami Marlins are a good story for now, but their pitching staff does not make them a legitimate threat for the division crown. Turner needs to be made ready now so that he can have an impact come September and the postseason. It’s time for Turner to receive more than just a “tryout” in Washington.