Posted on January 4, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Washington Nationals are officially the busiest team in 2020. On Saturday, the Nationals added a player for the third straight day. One day after agreeing to terms with Starlin Castro, the Nationals re-signed versatile infielder Asdrubal Cabrera. The deal is for one year with Cabrera making a base salary of $2.5 million and up to $3 million with incentives.
The 34-year-old Cabrera found new life with the Nationals late last season after being released by the Rangers in early August following a disappointing first half of the season. After landing in Washington, Cabrera hit .323 with an OPS of .969. He became the team’s primary second baseman down the stretch and in the postseason, quickly putting his struggles in Texas behind him. Prior to that, Cabrera put together two and a half years of consistent production with the Mets. Despite his age, Cabrera is still capable of being a productive offensive player. He’s also familiar with the other teams in the NL East, which should work to his advantage.
“He fits a nice role for us,” Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said of Cabrera before the signing. “We know the player. I love the makeup and the character of him, specifically.”
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Of course, it remains to be seen how Cabrera will fit with the Nationals in 2020. After signing Castro on Friday, the Nationals appear to be set at second base. Even Castro isn’t a lock to be the primary second baseman for all of 2020 with top prospect Carter Kieboom coming through the pipeline. However, he could share time with Castro at second base and also serve as a backup for shortstop Trea Turner despite not playing that position since 2016.
More likely, Cabrera is a backup option to be Washington’s primary third baseman in 2020. Cabrera played exclusively at the hot corner with the Rangers last season. While it’s not his natural position, he’s sound enough defensively to handle it. That makes him an option to replace Anthony Rendon, who the Nationals lost in free agency.
At the moment, the Nationals are still looking for a top-flight third baseman to replace Rendon. They are still in the mix for Josh Donaldson, who remains unsigned. Third basemen Kris Bryant, Kyle Seager, and Nolan Arenado could also be available via trade. If the Nationals fail to bring in one of those players, Cabrera could be in line to be Washington’s everyday third baseman this season.
Meanwhile, if the Nationals are able to sign Donaldson or trade for a top-flight third baseman, Cabrera will still be a useful player. He’s a switch-hitter who can play multiple positions and still has plenty of pop in his bat. With Cabrera and Castro coming aboard at the same time, the Nationals have two versatile infielders who should be able to find a role regardless of any other moves the Nationals make this offseason. Equally important, Cabrera wanted to remain in Washington and the Nationals should be equally happy to have an important piece of their championship team back.