It is not as if the Washington Nationals have not known that they have needed more offensively from the catcher position for some time now. But what’s going on at the plate with the men behind the plate may soon be at critical mass.
Two full months into the season and the Nationals, playing catch-up now with Atlanta and the Philadelphia Phillies, are trying to muster up as much offense that it can produce in what has been a lackluster season so far. Probably the biggest glaring hole in what should have been a very potent lineup has been at the catcher position, where, combined, Washington catchers have posted a Major League-worst .555 OPS.
Matt Wieters, the team’s projected No. 1 catcher, remains on the disabled list after a left hamstring strain suffered in May – and that came after he landed on the DL at the very beginning of the season with an oblique strain. Even with the injuries, Wieters, a four-time All-Star while with Beltway rival Baltimore, has not been able to match the production in Washington that he put up playing in Camden Yards since his acquisition before last season.
After Wieters’ first stint on the DL, and in an attempt to provide any offensive punch behind the plate, Washington took a flyer on former Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Montero, whom you remember as the person berating everyone on the Cubs but himself at this time last season when the Nats stole seven bases off of him and starter Jake Arrieta. Like what happened after that rant and his employment with the Cubs thereafter, Montero’s time with Washington was short-lived, as he lasted just 13 plate appearances (0-11 AB) before he was released.
Since then, it’s been the platoon of Pedro Severino and Spencer Kieboom that’s held down the fort behind the plate, and while Severino is more serviceable as a receiver for the Nationals’ dynamic pitching staff, his offense has tailed off woefully in recent games; In his last 17 appearances, Severino was just 5-for-53 (.094/.172/.113) with one double, four walks, and 13 strikeouts in 58 plate appearances
Those numbers make the rumored interest in Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto just intensify even more. When Miami traded outfielder Christian Yelich to Milwaukee before the start of the season, it was speculated that Miami, under the new ownership group led by Derek Jeter, was going to tear things with the roster all the way down to its foundation, leaving their most valuable pieces available in the open market.
Realmuto, who expressed his disappointment with the team after what he perceived was another Marlins reboot, seemed like a perfect fit to land in Washington, and he still might end up with the Nationals if the price is right as we are just over a month before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.