CJ Abrams Has Potential to Be the Nationals Shortstop

CJ Abrams

CJ Abrams looks ready to be the next shortstop of the Washington Nationals. The position had a considerable void there since the Nationals traded away Trea Turner a year ago. Although, the potential in Abrams is what the fans witnessed as a small sample size. Washington looks like they have a shortstop for the long term and a player to build around.

Abrams is one of the top prospects in baseball, as he was the sixth selection taken by the San Diego Padres in the 2019 MLB Draft. His time with San Diego was short since the Padres traded him in a blockbuster deal for Juan Soto. With Abrams as one of the top five players in the Padres organization, he was considered the key player in that trade.

CJ Abrams: 2022 Season Stats

After the trade, Abrams was assigned to Triple-A Rochester. He was hitting .290 with four stolen bases when the Nationals promoted the shortstop on August 15 to replace the injured Luis García. In 44 games, the 22-year-old hit .258 and had six stolen bases. While he had some trouble offensively during his first month at the plate—only getting eight hits in 50 at-bats—after adjusting to his new team and teammates, he had an excellent September. He hit .304, with five doubles and two triples.

Washington’s Defense must Improve

During Abrams time with the Padres, his defense was the topic of conversation. His ticket to the big leagues was quickness, speed, and tremendous range. However, Abram’s defense suffered after the trade. Maybe it was the adjustment to new teammates or even major-league-level, on-the-job training, but he made 11 errors and struggled with his throws.

Manager Dave Martinez said he expects his young player to work on his defense in the offseason. If he can reduce those errors and become more consistent in making routine throws, the sky is the defensive limit.

Future at Shortstop and Second

Washington should be confident in Abrams. The Nationals plan to move García to second base starting next season. While Garcia is inexperienced at the position, the organization is confident that he can develop to handle it daily. He did play in 33 games in the majors, showing his ability to turn the double play on different occasions. Both players could stabilize the infield for the Nationals for many years.

While the two players need to improve both offensively and defensively, the Nationals will be patient with them. Abrams, 21, and García, 22, are under contract through at least the 2027 season. If the Nationals will be competitive next season, it makes sense that their double-play tandem have a lot of experience playing and communicating together. In a smart move by Martinez, he made them locker-mates in the clubhouse. They have already developed a strong friendship.

Building with Abrams and Others

Abrams is a focal point in general manager Mike Rizzo’s rebuild. Putting a young duo like Abrams and García together while giving them plenty of playing time is a good start toward building a contender. Also, part of that defensive build is catcher Keibert Ruiz, the 24-year-old who was part of the blockbuster Scherzer-Turner trade at the 2021 deadline. Ruiz’s game revolves around having a solid bat, especially for a catcher and the ability to call a game.

No one expects the Nationals to be contenders next year. Nevertheless, with a solid group of young players led by Abrams, they could be better sooner than most think.

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Players/managers mentioned:

CJ Abrams, Trea Turner, Juan Soto, Dave Martinez, Luis García, Keibert Ruiz