This past week, the Washington Nationals picked up corner infielder Mauro Gomez off of waivers. While he won’t have an impact on the MLB team this year, there is one thing about him that makes this signing very intriguing.
Gomez played 37 games for the Boston Red Sox in 2012, but has spent a majority of his time in the minor leagues, including the past three seasons playing triple-A ball. In those 37 games with Boston, he held a slash line of .275/.324/.422 with 17 RBIs and two home runs.
As a minor leaguer in the Toronto Blue Jays organization this year, he’s batted .249 with 29 home runs and 73 RBIs.
However, his bat isn’t what makes this move so intriguing. See, he is a corner infielder on defense. That means he can play either first base or third base. The Nationals’ current third baseman, Ryan Zimmerman, is in the final weeks of one of his worst seasons playing the hot corner in D.C. He has a fielding percentage of just .938, which is his lowest since he joined the Nationals back in 2005. He’s committed 20 errors, and that is second only to his 2007 season where he committed 23 errors.
Many are now starting to believe that first base is in the his future. Current first baseman Adam LaRoche only has one more year on his contract. With the way he’s been playing this year, he’ll need one heck of a 2014 season if he wants to earn an extension. Zimmerman, on the other hand, is signed through 2020.
They could let go of LaRoche at the end of the 2014 season and shift Zimmerman over to first. That then leaves a hole at third. Who would fill it? That’s an easy one.
Ever since they drafted him, Anthony Rendon has been the heir-apparent to take over third base when Zimmerman is no longer playing there. Once you get past Rendon, however, there aren’t very many names that could fill in behind him. Who would back him up?
That’s where Mauro Gomez steps into the picture.
Gomez has had experience in the minors playing the hot corner and played nine games at third for the Red Sox in 2012. Unfortunately, he’s proven to be a shaky third baseman as he committed four errors for the Red Sox in those nine games. In 109 career minor league games at third base, Gomez has committed 47 errors. As you can see, his defense doesn’t exactly scream starter.
A bench role, however, could be right up his alley. Since he has plenty of experience as a first and third baseman, he could be the backup to either position. In 2014, for example, he could do spot starts at either position if LaRoche or Zimmerman get a scheduled day off. He wouldn’t get very many starts, but then again, his statistics say that that’s not exactly a bad thing.
Then in 2015 when Rendon is starting at third and Zimmerman is at first, the same scenario could take place. Gomez could be a spot starter when a guy needs a scheduled day off. He also has pinch-hitting potential, something that Nationals have been lacking this season.
Of course, none of this will really happen until 2015 when LaRoche becomes a free agent, and that is only if the Nationals let him walk. Another scenario could be if they deal LaRoche this offseason. All the switching and moving would come in 2014.
At the very least, signing Gomez provides them with a little more depth at the minor league level. If there’s one thing that GM Mike Rizzo has proven he can’t have enough of, it’s minor league depth. Having all that depth has made for a bright future for the Nationals.
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