For much of the 2015 season, Trea Turner, the player-to-be-named-later in the Steven Souza trade, was seemingly breathing down the neck of Ian Desmond. Desmond batted just .211 before the All-Star break, and a combined .174 in June and July. The pending free agent has certainly turned things around in the second half, batting .294 in August with four home runs and 13 RBI. He’s also stolen four bases, and has been one of the few bright spots as the struggle to break free of their death spiral.
Desmond’s job appears to be safe from Turner’s pursuit. At least for this year, anyway. That does not mean Turner should not be called up come September 1st when teams may carry up to 40 active players. Turner has started the past two games for Triple-A Syracuse at second base, the first two starts at second in his career. With Anthony Rendon dealing with nagging injuries all year, having Turner as an insurance policy at second base seems like a wise move. Overall, Rendon, Danny Espinosa, and Dan Uggla have combined to slash .204/.260/.354 in August. There are a lot of problem spots in the Washington lineup right now, and second base is one of them.
Trea Turner – currently taking some extra work at second base – makes his first pro start at 2B tonight. pic.twitter.com/i2S9EVbFgP
— SYR Chiefs Radio (@ChiefsRadio) August 18, 2015
Rendon’s job is also safe from Turner. Even if he continues to struggle, Matt Williams is not taking the bat out of the hands of his 2014 Silver Slugger. Turner, however, could be a good option to have on hand should Rendon, who has missed several games in the past week, actually need to miss extended time. It’s not yet time to fully pull the plug on the Nationals’ playoff hopes this season, but they are definitely on life support.
Turner has put up some very solid numbers in the minor leagues this season. In 116 games across two levels, Turner has a .322/.370/.458 line with 39 extra-base hits and 29 stolen bases. Defense may be the only thing holding Turner back from a call-up, as he has made 21 errors on the year. Though he is far from a defensive liability, the last thing the Nationals need right now are defensive miscues and unearned runs.
Trea Turner is the future shortstop for the Washington Nationals, but that will not come full-time until next year. In the meantime, it makes sense for the team to give him a taste of the Major League game as this year draws to a close. He could inject some life into the second base position and help to spell Rendon, or allow Rendon to slide over to third if Yunel Escobar needs a day off. At 60-60, the Nationals need any little spark they can get, and perhaps Trea Turner can provide it. Look for the 2014 first-rounder to make his big league debut sometime soon after the calendar turns to September.
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