The Nationals made their one-year deal with former No. 2 overall draft pick Nick Senzel official yesterday, and the club is envisioning a prominent role for the 28-year-old. Senzel himself tells reporters that manager Dave Martinez told him the expectation is that he’ll play third base every day in 2024 (link via Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com).
At the time he agreed to his one-year, $2MM pact with Washington, it was reasonable enough to expect that Senzel might bounce around the diamond, as he’d done throughout his time in Cincinnati. The Reds began Senzel’s development as a third baseman but began playing him at other positions before long. Eugenio Suarez was locked in as the Reds’ third baseman, and after he turned in a 34-homer, All-Star campaign in 2018, Senzel wound up serving as Cincinnati’s primary center fielder in 2019. Overall, Senzel played all three outfield spots, second base and third base in the big leagues during his time as a Red (plus some briefer looks at shortstop in the minors).
It seems the Nationals plan to give Senzel an opportunity he never fully received in Cincinnati: everyday reps at the hot corner. Part of that lack of opportunity in Cincinnati was due to the presence of other veterans (e.g. Suarez, Mike Moustakas). Part was due to a litany of injuries that derailed Senzel’s development. He missed time due to finger surgery (to repair a torn tendon), elbow surgery (to remove bone spurs), shoulder surgery (torn labrum), injuries to both knees (one of which required arthroscopic surgery) and an ankle sprain. If he can finally remain healthy and things go well, the Nats can control him through the 2025 season via arbitration.
Word of an everyday role for Senzel isn’t without impact elsewhere on Washington’s roster. The Nats have their own former top prospect whom they selected in the first round of the 2016 draft, just 24 picks after Senzel, in Carter Kieboom. The 26-year-old has appeared in parts of four big league seasons with the Nats but mustered only a .199/.297/.301 slash in 508 trips to the plate. Kieboom is now out of minor league options, so he’ll need to either make the Opening Day roster or else be traded or exposed to waivers before he can be sent down to the minors.
That puts Kieboom in an unenviable spot. Like Senzel, he’s been plagued by myriad injuries throughout his still relatively young career. Most notable is the infielder’s 2022 Tommy John surgery, but Kieboom has also missed time…