On a day where the headlines belong to Lucas Giolito, the rumor mill brought another really exciting piece of information our way that has Nationals fans buzzing:
Trea Turner starts in center field tonight for the @SyracuseChiefs - his first pro start outside of SS or 2B.— SYR Chiefs Radio (@ChiefsRadio) June 27, 2016
First off, this is exciting news! Let's pull it apart and look at what this means for the Nationals.
1) Trea Turner is being blocked by Danny Espinosa despite being ready for the major leagues.
This news new reconfirms what we already suspected, that GM Mike Rizzo does not see Turner as a big upgrade over Espinosa at SS. Espinosa is working on a 3 WAR season for the first time since 2012 and the Nationals don't intend to waste that.
This should not be considered a knock on Turner. In fact, this rumor makes it clear that Turner's bat is viewed as ready to make the move to the major leagues. He is not going to hit 20+ HRs like Espinosa or Murphy, but his high average, get on base approach would be extremely valuable somewhere in the Nationals' lineup.
Rizzo on Turner in CF: "We feel that offensively, he's major league ready," but Espinosa playing well now. Began working in CF 3 days ago.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) June 27, 2016
2) Michael Taylor and Ben Revere are playing on a very short leash.
Taylor has a .657 OPS and is barely playing above replacement level thanks to his defense. Revere has a .519 OPS and though he hits left-handed pitchers well he is eminently replaceable right now. Trea Turner is currently batting .304/.377/.464 at AAA through 71 games at AAA.
This is a playoff contending Nationals team and there is no room for starters who produce like bench players during a playoff run. This experiment signals that Mike Rizzo and Dusty Baker are open to make some drastic moves to bolster the lineup.
3) Trea Turner in CF is an experiment until proven viable.
Yes, Ian Desmond handled the transition from SS to CF fine. So have others like young Phillies' star Odubel Herrera. The odds that Turner can learn the position defensively well enough to play it in the majors are quite high. He has the speed needed for the position, but playing CF is not all about running fast.
How long does it take to learn to play CF? Desi got to practice LF before he moved to CF by the Rangers. Herrera got a taste of the outfield at AAA and in the Venezuelan Winter League before the Phillies took him in the Rule 5 draft and tossed him into CF. Is this a position Turner can learn in a few weeks or a month? We simply don’t know.
It's up to Turner to show us what he can do.
It's pretty clear that he has a job here in D.C. if he shows that he can handle himself in the field at a position of weakness like CF.
What do you think? What are the odds that Trea Turner gets called up in July as a center fielder?