2018 Washington Nationals Positional Review: Catchers
There are numerous reasons why the Washington Nationals 2018 season did not go the way the team and most around baseball thought it would go.
The blame could be put onto a multitude of things, but overall the Nationals lack of production at the catcher position played a big role in their underachieving year.
The team started off the season with the duo of Matt Wieters and old veteran Miguel Montero backing him up. This did not last long as just a few weeks into the season Washington cut Montero and called up Pedro Severino.
When Wieters was hurt in the middle of May, the Nationals called up rookie Spencer Kieboom, and the production at the catcher position went downhill fast.
With Wieters out, Severino took over the starting role and struggled to say the least. In 70 games Severino posted a line of .168/.254/.247 and just two home runs and 15 RBI. This is clearly not good enough for a starting catcher and was a big part of the Nationals lack of success in the months of June and July.
Once Wieters returned in mid-July, Severino was optioned back down to AAA, and the Washington catcher situation got a little bit better, but still never improved to a viable level for a playoff contending team.
The rookie Kieboom had a surprisingly decent year, posting a line of .232/.322/.320 with two home runs and 13 RBI in 50 games.
After Wieters returned from the disabled list he had fairly solid production, and his end of season numbers of .238/.330/.374 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs do not look at that bad, but the time from when Wieters went on the disabled list till he really turned on his production in mid August played a huge factor in Washington’s demise as a team.
Getting almost no production from your catcher position for over two months is something not many teams could sustain and keep a winning record, and it was a big factor in the Nationals inability to consistently score runs during that stretch.
Now as we head into the offseason the Nationals face an important question. Do they value the starting catcher position as a need large enough to spend big money on a free agent acquisition, or acquire someone via trade?
In my opinion, I do not see a return of Matt Wieters to the nation’s capital. Wieters never lived up to what the Nats thought he would be when they signed him, and I just think it makes sense for both sides to part ways and try to find success elsewhere.
Some names to keep in mind at the catcher position for the Nationals this offseason are J.T. Realmuto, Wilson Ramos, Jonathan Lucroy, and Yasmani Grandal. Will any of these options be worth a multi-million contract, or do the Nationals have faith in Keiboom to man the position?
If the Nationals want to make a return to the postseason next year, they will need more production from the catcher position.
With a solid backup in Kieboom already in place, adding any of the names above would be a huge upgrade to the position as a whole and add a lot of production at the bottom of the lineup which the team did not have in 2018.
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