Abrams was one of six players to receive the Nationals in exchange for Juan Soto and Josh Bell on this year’s trade deadline, and he is a player Washington sees as their shortstop of the future. Pitcher MacKenzie Gore and first baseman Luke Voit, also acquired by the deal, have been on the major league roster since Monday, although Gore hasn’t pitched yet due to an inflammation of his left elbow.
García said after Sunday’s game that he felt better than Friday, but was still in pain when he tried to run. García also missed Wednesday’s game with right knee pain. Martinez said Sunday night the team would consider making a move if García’s groin did not improve; that move seems to be Abrams.
“We see [Abrams] as a five-tool type of talent,” said Nationals General Manager Rizzo Aug. 2. “He could steal you a base, he stays at shortstop, he has a good arm and a man who can get to the top of the order. ”
Abrams hit .232 in 46 games with the Padres this season and also spent time at San Diego’s Class AAA affiliate. He made 28 starts at shortstop instead of Fernando Tatis Jr., six at second base and one in right field during his time in the majors.
Abrams was chosen for Class AAA Rochester after the transaction because manager Dave Martinez wanted him to get used to the organization. The Nationals made a similar move last season with catcher Keibert Ruiz after he was traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Max Scherzer and Trea Turner deal.
Martinez would not post a timeline when Abrams would make his Nationals debut in the post-trade days. Abrams hit 9 for 31 (.290) with two doubles and two RBI in eight games with Rochester.
When García was called up on June 1, Martinez made it clear that he was meant to be the Nationals shortstop for the remainder of the season. The 22-year-old has started 58 games this season, all at shortstop, and performed well at the plate with a .289 batting average.
But his defensive struggles are well documented: he committed 13 errors this season and stands for the last time in the league with minus-15 defensive runs saved, a defensive measure by FanGraphs. Abrams will fill his spot at shortstop and will likely continue to play there even if García returns from injury; García will likely switch to second base and the two could form the center infield of the Nationals in the future.
“A good team is strong in the middle,” Rizzo said on August 2. “And soon you’ll see a 23-year-old Ruiz and a 21-year-old Abrams and a Luis García and a [Josiah] Gray and a [MacKenzie] Gore and a Cade Cavalli. That’s going to be your core and that’s going to be the beginning of the core with a lot of people coming in.”
The Nationals will now have three pieces of their return from the Soto deal in the majors, less than two weeks after the trade.
It will give Washington a glimpse of what its future could look like as it winds up a horrendous season. The Nationals, losing 6-0 on Sunday, are 3-10 in August and hold the worst record in the majors at 38-78.