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Washington Nationals’ 2023 plan for Joey Meneses

Joey Meneses is going to play first base and DH for the Nationals in 2023 if things go to plan.

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals - Game One Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

“His approach at the plate has been amazing,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies one month into Joey Meneses’s sort of out of nowhere run in his first stint in the big leagues following ten seasons in the minors, Mexico, and Japan.

Meneses put up, “72 hits through his first 56 games,” which were, “the most by any rookie through his first 56 games in franchise history (MON/WSH),” as the club noted in their Season in Review.

The first baseman/outfielder, “… led Washington in hits (72), HR (13) & RBI[s] (34) [after] being called up on 8/2... His 72 hits ranked 2nd in the NL [after] 8/2 and his 13 HR were [tied for 4th].”

“He stays inside the ball very well,” Rizzo continued. “He uses the whole field. His strong point is he hits them gap-to-gap from left-center to [the] right-center gap, and he’s hit some really good pitching. I mean, you’re talking about a guy who’s faced some good pitchers and really done a good job [against them]. He handles velocity well, and he handles offspeed and breaking pitches.”

Meneses put up a .319 AVG on fastballs as a 30-year-old rookie, a .338 AVG on breaking balls, and a .313 AVG on offspeed stuff, which, in terms of the offspeed stuff, Rizzo attributed to his experience playing internationally as he worked towards an opportunity in the majors.

“I think that’s a credit to the amount of games he’s played in the Mexican League,” Rizzo said, “which is a very offspeed-[oriented] league, and I think that has helped him, and I think he handles soft stuff as well as velocity as good as any player we’ve seen in a while.”

Coming up as he did to play right field in the immediate aftermath of right fielder Juan Soto being traded, it could have, for a less confident player, been a pressure-filled situation, but Meneses didn’t let it get to him.

“He’s been extremely consistent for us,” Rizzo told the Junkies.

“He’s really everything that Matt LeCroy, our Triple-A manager, and De Jon Watson, our Farm Director, had said about him throughout the season. It’s really a terrific story about a guy that could always hit in his career. I think that he was almost a triple crown winner in the minor leagues at times during his career, and just never got an opportunity to crack the big league roster, and at the trade deadline he was the guy we chose to come up and play for us, and he hasn’t looked back, and he’s been a positive influence in the clubhouse, and although he’s a 30-year-old rookie, he’s really taken advantage of his time here in the big leagues.”

The plan for Meneses in 2023? Martinez talked at the Winter Meetings earlier this month about attempting to add a bat to the lineup, where they would like to add it, and what an addition might mean for Meneses and where he plays.

“I would really like to keep Joey at first base, and the days that he doesn’t [play first base], DH him to give him a breather,” Martinez said. “I know he was a rookie, but he’s an older rookie. His days off probably would be DH’ing, if we could find someone who could possibly play first base and play some left field, that would be great.”

“We have a lot of different options at first. Joey can play there,” Rizzo said during his own press availability at the Winter Meetings. “[Jeimer Candelario] can play there. We’ve got some other viable options. so we’ll see. We’re just beginning the offseason, so we’ll see where it ends up in a couple of months.”