By Sam Bush
Nationals manager Dave Martinez hasn’t decided who will bat third in his lineup now that Anthony Rendon has departed.
Juan Soto might move up from the cleanup spot he occupied last season. Howie Kendrick might move up from the No. 5 spot. And that unconventional choice mentioned here and elsewhere in recent weeks – Trea Turner moving down from the leadoff spot – is also a possibility.
“Honestly, I might try Trea there and see how that works out,” Martinez said. “Like I said, I like the fact that we’ve got a bunch of different options and guys who can put the ball in play throughout our lineup.”
Turner, one of the fastest players in the sport, would make for an unconventional No. 3 hitter. But his .497 slugging percentage last season ranked 30th in the National League, and he recorded more extra-base hits than Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Ryan Braun and Manny Machado despite missing two months with a broken finger.
If Turner moved to the heart of the lineup, though, someone else would need to move up into one of the top two spots alongside Adam Eaton. Victor Robles, who mostly hit eighth last season as a rookie, is one potential choice. So is newly signed first baseman Eric Thames.
“You might see Thames up second against right-handed pitching and give us some early pop,” Martinez said. “We’ll play with all those things and see how it works out.”