Ryan Zimmerman is likely headed to the paternity list, perhaps as soon as Friday, meaning the Nationals would likely call up shortstop prospect Trea Turner, according to multiple people familiar with the situation. Turner, an everyday player, was not in Class AAA Syracuse’s starting lineup Thursday and, in fact, wasn’t even with the team.
The Nationals were off Thursday and begin a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati beginning Friday. The Nationals haven’t announced any moves, and it is unclear when the team will.
Zimmerman’s wife, Heather, is due with the couple’s second child soon. A paternity list stint can last up to three days. So in the meantime, Turner could be expected to serve as potential infield insurance.
Danny Espinosa — a glove-first shortstop with a .637 OPS but who has hit better of late — is the Nationals’ starting shortstop, and Stephen Drew, who can play all over the infield, is his primary backup. Zimmerman, a first baseman, is hitting .250 with eight home runs and a .763 OPS.
Turner, 22, is hitting .310 with a .376 on-base percentage and .848 OPS in 50 games at Syracuse. He is perfect in 17 stolen base attempts and has improved his plate discipline. A speedy, high-contact, top-of-the-order hitter, Turner is seen as the Nationals’ potential shortstop of the future, and the date of his call-up has been the subject of much speculation.
Turner made his major league debut late last August. Among the top shortstop prospects in baseball, he appeared in 27 games, hit .225 and stole two bases in four attempts. Because he spent 45 days on the major league roster last season, Turner would reach a full year of service time for his career if he spent at least 127 days on the roster this season. A full year of service time equals 172 days on the roster.
Turner has been with Syracuse since the start of the season as the Nationals wanted him to keep improving and playing everyday. His full-year cutoff for the season passed earlier this week anyway.
Turner played second base, as he has a few times this season, on Wednesday for Syracuse. The Nationals are scheduled to face a left-handed starter Friday, so Manager Dusty Baker will have options. Second baseman Daniel Murphy, for example, has also played first base in his career.