Ryan Zimmerman, now likely out through mid-June with a torn rectus muscle in his abdomen, probably doesn’t qualify as one of baseball’s top 10 performers just yet, but as far as irreplaceable players go, he’s very near the top.
In Zimmerman’s absence, the Nats have been trying to get by with Jerry Hairston Jr. and Alex Cora at third base. Hairston is currently hitting .220/.316/.300 in 50 at-bats, while Cora is at .139/.205/.167 in 36 at-bats.
Taking just their appearances at third base into account, they’ve combined to hit .228 with one homer, five RBI and five runs scored in 57 at-bats.
And that’s not all the Nationals are losing. Zimmerman is a Gold Glove defender. Hairston and Cora are merely average. Plus, the Nationals are missing out at a second position, since Hairston figured to be make his biggest contribution as a center field against lefties.
The effect of one or two injuries to a team is often overstated by baseball analysts, but losing Zimmerman for a couple of months is a huge blow to a Nationals team that spent big over the winter in order to improve their standing and bring more fans into the ballpark.
The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.
Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.
The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.
While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.
Update (7:05 PM EST): The Rays and Dodgers have both announced the trade.
Update (6:57 PM EST): That was fast. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports the two sides have agreed to the trade. Forsythe for De Leon. An announcement is expected shortly.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Dodgers and Rays are “deep into discussions” on a trade involving second baseman Logan Forsythe. Passan adds that the two sides have discussed pitcher Jose De Leon — the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect — as part of the return for Forsythe, but it’s unclear if he’s in the deal currently being discussed.
Forsythe, 30, hit a productive .264/.333/.444 with 20 home runs and 52 RBI in 567 plate appearances in 2016. He was even better the year before, finishing with an .804 OPS. Forsythe can fill the Dodgers’ obvious need at second base, but he also has experience playing third base, first base, shortstop, and corner outfield.
Forsythe is entering the second year of his two-year, $10.25 million contract extension with the Rays. He’ll earn $5.75 million in 2017 and his controlling team has an $8.5 million club option with a $1 million buyout for the 2018 season.