While the Washington Nationals were reportedly willing to include outfield prospect Victor Robles in a deal for Chris Sale, once the 27-year-old now-former Chicago White Sox ace was dealt to Boston, Robles was reportedly taken off the table for any future negotiations.
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo talked to reporters after Sale was traded to the Red Sox about the package he was reportedly willing to offer the White Sox for the left-hander.
“The caliber of pitcher available isn’t often [bandied] in the trade market,” Rizzo said.
“He was a quality pitcher so you’re going to have to give up quality to get him and it was a move that you have three years of control of a really good pitcher so you’re going to have to give up a lot for him and we felt that we reached as far as we were going to reach in the trade and we fell short.”
According to a report by Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga, Rizzo was willing to offer the White Sox three to four prospects* including Lucas Giolito, Robles and Reynaldo Lopez, who entered 2016 ranked 1st, 3rd and 5th, respectively, in the Nationals’ organization on Baseball America’s list, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd on MLB.com’s list of the Nationals’ top prospects.
[ed. note - “ * = Other reports included 2016 1st Round pick Dane Dunning in the offer.”]
Svrluga and others wrote after the Sale trade that he didn’t expect Robles to reappear in any other offers this winter.
Giolito, Lopez and Dunning ended up getting dealt to the White Sox in return for Adam Eaton.
He has well above-average speed & the arm strength to match. @Nationals' Victor Robles, OF on our All-Defense Team: https://t.co/ou4o59B6zN pic.twitter.com/55zLrLZF6b— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 16, 2017
Robles, reportedly a target for the Pittsburgh Pirates in talks about veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen in early December, signed for $225K out of the Dominican Republic in 2013.
The 19-year-old put up a combined .280/.376/.423 line, 17 doubles, eight triples, nine home runs and 37 stolen bases in 110 games and 504 plate appearances between the Rookie League Gulf Coast Nationals (five games), Low-A Hagerstown Suns (64 games) and High-A Potomac Nationals (41 games), where he was the youngest player in the Carolina League in 2016.
Robles was ranked No. 1 overall on Baseball America’s list of the Nats’ Top 10 prospects for 2017, receiving above average grades in Batting (60), Speed (70), Defense (60) and Arm Strength (60) on the scouts’ 20-to-80 scale.
MLB.com’s Jim Callis included Robles on their MLB Pipeline’s All-Defensive Team this winter, writing that the Nationals’ prospect, “... may have the best all-around tools in the Minors, and his defensive ability is a big part of that. He has well above-average speed and the arm strength to match, and he already shows a lot of polish for a 19-year-old.”
Back in September, Callis predicted that Robles (who will still be one of the youngest players in the Carolina League at 20 years old this season) could end up being the top prospect overall by the end of the 2017 season.
He’s the top-ranked prospect in the Nationals’ organization after Giolito was dealt to the Sox.
“Robles might have the best all-around tools in Minors,” Callis wrote, “and could be a future .300 hitter with 15 homers and 40 steals per year.”
With a projected arrival date in the majors in 2018, Robles could join the Nationals in an outfield with Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper in the near-future.
Will the decision to keep the outfielder this winter pay off?