The Nats need a 1st baseman today; Think outside the box!

Last night, manager Dave Martinez confirmed that his first baseman, Joey Gallo, pulled his hamstring, and the team would need to get a player to Detroit. Just as Gallo finally started hitting the past 16-games at a .262 pace and a .762 OPS with Gold Glove level defense. Even his K-rate dropped to 35.4 percent from the stratosphere. His IL stint that ended in early May for a sore shoulder turned out to be the fix to turn around Gallo’s season. He had become a positive contributor.

Immediate thoughts for a Gallo replacement went to Travis Blankenhorn who is a lefty with some experience at first base, and currently Rochester’s hottest bat with James Wood still on the 7-day IL. Juan Yepez (RH) is the primary first baseman at Rochester, and of course there is Trey Lipscomb who played some first base for the Nats this year — and that did not go too well. Those are the most accessible players from Triple-A. Blankenhorn and Yepez would need 40-man spots. There are other quick fill-ins on the roster like Alex Call and Riley Adams since they are both on the 40-man also. But it looks like it is going to be Lipscomb:

Sometimes you have to think outside of the box when you are pressed for a solution to a problem. Let’s face it, Gallo was only on a one-year deal, and his back-up, Joey Meneses, certainly doesn’t look like the long-term solution. The Nats either need to upgrade in the offseason, or maybe they can look for a trade now. Sure, you could get Josh Bell as a salary dump at about the $9.5 million he is still owed. But Bell’s defense has fallen further since he played for the Nationals in 2021 and 2022. You certainly don’t want to trade away top prospects for a first baseman with free agency a great option. But maybe there are some other creative solutions by looking at players in your control.

Speaking to someone who remembers Wood growing up, he played a lot of first base. Of course he did, as that would always seem the logical place to put a gifted athlete who was taller than anyone else. Smart coaches saw that Wood was more than that because of that speed and athleticism, and he played a lot of outfield too. But if you want to come up with short-term solutions, Wood could be an answer there as a player who could do just what Gallo has done as an outfielder and a first baseman.

The skeptics would say you are devaluing Wood who has more upside as an outfielder. Yes, that is true. But having that positional flexibility might be a great solution in the short-term. Ask Wood if he would do it, and I bet you would get a smile out of him. He could use his time in Triple-A learning the position. Gallo was brought to the Nats as an outfielder where he had already won two Gold Gloves as an outfielder. The Nats had a need at first base, but we also saw Gallo in right field after Lane Thomas injured his knee.

In the offseason, Nats fans would certainly have pending free agents, Pete Alonso and Christian Walker, on the top of their shopping lists to play first base. Could you imagine if Juan Soto went the way of Bryce Harper and picked up a first baseman’s glove due to his throwing arm issues? ESPN just did a polling to get ideas of what Soto’s deal might cost in free agency.

The Nationals payroll is set to dip under $90 million after the season while carrying Stephen Strasburg‘s remaining salary in his retirement, but finally clearing Patrick Corbin‘s deal off the books. The Nats should be one of the teams with money to spend. In the short-term, think outside of the box.

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