Blog Entry

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet

Posted on: February 20, 2012 7:37 pm

By Matt Snyder

Much of the attention in Nationals camp this spring will focus on the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez. There will surely be talk of Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos and Mike Morse for varying reasons as well. But a major storyline that's lying in the weeds and could be an issue as soon as 2013 is Ryan Zimmerman vs. 2011 first-round pick Anthony Rendon at third base.

Rendon, 21, is a third baseman by trade, though he had played second base some in college, too. Speculation from many of the scouting websites (Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, etc.) have him being big-league ready very soon, as early as the start of the 2013 season. And they also say he's best suited for third base, even a plus defender there, while he'd be below average at second or short.

Of course, in Zimmerman, the Nationals have a 27-year-old third baseman who has won a Gold Glove. The issue, however, is that Zimmerman regressed on defense in 2011. Injuries hampered his range ('s UZR/150 score for Zimmerman was 17.8 in 2010 and -4.4 in 2011) and he had to develop a new throwing motion to try and protect himself from further injury. That new throwing motion caused accuracy issues, too. The Nats Blog made a good case a few weeks ago that Zimmerman could easily be the Nationals' first baseman of the future, with Rendon sliding right in at third.

For now, Zimmerman is saying all the right things.

“I think I want to play third base until someone is better than me at it,” Zimmerman said (Nationals Journal). “I think there’s teams that move people. I’ve said it all along — I want to be here as long as I can. I want to play my whole career here. If that means me playing third base for five more years and then moving somewhere because someone is better than me at third and it’ll help us win, then I’ll do it. If that means me playing third base for 10 years and then going to first base or wherever, then I’ll do it. I don’t care."

Rendon will be getting reps at third base, shortstop and second base in camp, and he gave the requisite due to Zimmerman.

“Oh, yeah, sure, he’s going to be here a long time, I’m pretty sure,” Rendon said (Nationals Journal). “He’s an all-star. He’s a great player. I’m not coming here to take anything away from him. He’s set in stone. I’m not trying to ruin that.”

It's very interesting to think about all the options moving forward, depending upon how things shake out. If Rendon pans out at second, Danny Espinosa could shift to shortstop and take out Ian Desmond. If Rendon needs to be at third and Zimmerman's health issues at third continue, Zimmerman could shift across the diamond. Of course, then the Nationals have nowhere to move Mike Morse when they acquire an upgrade in center field and have Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper at the corners.

This is all just something to think about, with no immediate urgency. Regardless, if Rendon develops into an All-Star-caliber bat -- as many believe he will -- Washington has a very nice problem on its hands.

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Since: Jul 23, 2008
Posted on: February 21, 2012 12:40 pm

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet

Good teams cannot get better without position competitions.  Zimmerman may stay healthy and productive at 3B for a long time but if he wants to remain at 3B in DC he will have to look over his shoulder for Rendon.  Regardless of what team he plays for now & in the future Zimmerman will have to deal with competition from younger players.

Nobody knows who will be the Nationals third baseman of the future.  Rendon has the tools and potential to supplant Zimmerman NOW.  But he doesn't have the experience to succeed yet.  It's Zimm's responsibility to work to keep the job and it's Rendon's job to try to take it from him.  Both of them should benefit from this challenge.  Rendon will learn from Zimm and Zimm will play with more motivation due to having this talented youngster breathing down neck.

The Nationals do look very good now and for the foreseeable future.  Now it's up to the coaching staff to transform talent to WINS and contention for post-season spots annually.  I know Davey Johnson has experience but how much of it is SUCCESSFUL experience.  I don't think he is the solution or the best candidate for the long-term success the Nationals are being built for.

As for Jayson Werth: everyone is criticizing this signing because it's too much money for the caliber player that he is.  There are more years left on the contract.  Judge the signing after at least two years.  This signing represents more than just signing an outfielder.  The Nats had to overpay for a free agent at some point to show future free agents and their own players that they were serious about building a winner and contending EVERY YEAR.  The signing did not pay dividends on the field in the first year but it may eventually pay dividends on the field, off the field, in the clubhouse, in the free agent market, trade value, and overall improved image throughout MLB.

With their recent drafts, trades (Gonzalez), and free agent signings (& pursuits) the Nationals are on the rise and considered a team that players want to play for now more than in the past (and definitely more than Pittsburgh).

Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:21 am

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet

If Rendon is ready, you can be sure Zim moves to 1st. According to most scouts before the Nats drafted him, Rendon is already major league ready to play 3rd defensively. I would not be wrried about Morse. More than likely he will not ever repeat what he did last year. His history just does not show that kind of a player. He is also not a great fielder at either LF or 1st. He is not locked into a huge contract either and probably will be better off as a DH in the future. The Natswill go after a top notch free agent CF next year and hopefully will have Harper entrenched in RF by then. If they indeed are ready for Rendon at 3rd, Morse will probably be moved. Hopefully he has a good enough year to warrent a lot of offers. Now, if Rendon can play an excellent 2nd, that would even be a huge bonus. I am not an Ian Desmond fan and would love to see him gone and Espinosa at SS.

Anyway you look at it, this team is definately heading in the right direction. I was sorry to see them give up top pitching prospect like Millone, Peacock(I am targeting him as my fantasy draft sleeper as Oakland is the perfect place for him to be pitching half his games) and Cole, but from what I hear, they are loaded with excellent pitching prospects at all levels in the minors.

So looking forward to this seasons Nats. Play Ball!

Since: Aug 27, 2009
Posted on: February 21, 2012 9:23 am

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet

Zimmerman's primary concern should be a return to health and productivity. It's entirely possible the decision will be made for him Wally Pipp style during his next injury hiatus.

Since: Sep 12, 2007
Posted on: February 21, 2012 9:19 am

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet

What a great problem to have !!! GO NATS !!!

Since: Nov 17, 2008
Posted on: February 21, 2012 6:40 am

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet

what a lovely problem   too much talent.

Since: Nov 26, 2007
Posted on: February 20, 2012 10:15 pm

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet

The Lerners paid their Suckitude tax. That contract was to get rid of the confederate money. Its small beans compared to what theyll rake in as the team contends. 

Since: Oct 26, 2010
Posted on: February 20, 2012 9:39 pm

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet

What gets me is first the Werth signing last year when they had some Harper in the minors. Than this year they were rumored in the Fielder sweep stakes but they know that this Redon was possibly going to be their third baseman in a couple of years than what would they have done with Zimmerman.  That part is minor the big thing is the Werth signing they made I think it will cost them in them more next year when they could have put that money maybe on some of the pitchers that are going to hit the free agent market. With the young core of postion players they may of been in the playoff hunt.

Since: May 28, 2007
Posted on: February 20, 2012 9:05 pm

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet

and it ends with that albatros of a contract werth has.

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: February 20, 2012 8:26 pm

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet

It's just another great draft pick for a loaded team, providing them lineup flexibility and options in the event of injuries or even a major trade chip. They are set to be competitive for a very long time, and it starts in that sparkling rotation.

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