According to an early December report by Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Rob Biertempfel, which cited information from “industry sources”, the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates talked about a potential 2-for-1 deal for veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen, but in the end, “... the Nationals rebuffed the Pirates' offer to swap McCutchen for outfielder Victor Robles and pitcher Lucas Giolito.”
Washington ended up trading Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 1st Round pick Dane Dunning to the Chicago White Sox for Adam Eaton, but multiple reports said Robles, who was rumored to be part of talks with the Sox about Chris Sale, was reportedly taken off the table after those discussions ended when Sale got dealt to the Boston Red Sox.
The final score: my ranking of the top 20 prospects in baseball is now up for Insiders (as is the entire 100) https://t.co/kXmIHauiPA— keithlaw (@keithlaw) January 27, 2017
ESPN’s Keith Law, in ranking Robles the No. 8 overall prospect in the minors, wrote that it was not “unreasonable” for the Nationals, “... to make Robles the one prospect they were keeping at all costs this winter,” after the 19-year-old put up a .280/.376/.423 line, 17 doubles, eight triples and nine home runs with 37 stolen bases in 110 games and 504 plate appearances split between the Gulf Coast Nationals, Low-A Hagerstown Suns and High-A Potomac Nationals.
Law describes Robles as a “true five-tool player” who’s “progressed quickly” since the Nationals signed him for $225,000 as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, and rates him as having 70 speed on the scout’s 20-to-80 scale, writing that he is a, “plus fielder in center with a plus arm, and at the plate, you can comfortably project him to have a plus hit tool.”
Law goes on to say that Robles has the raw ingredients for power too, comparing him to McCutchen at the same age and suggesting that once he’s physically matured he could get there.
So... the Nats kept a 19-year-old, controllable potential future McCutchen rather than trading for one or two years of a 30-year-old McCutchen?
101: Robles is the Nationals’ only prospect in Law’s Top 100 for 2017. Giolito dropped from No. 3 on last year’s list to 13th overall this winter.
One Nats’ outfield prospect fell just outside the Top 100, however.
Juan Soto, who signed out of the Dominican Republic for a $1.5M bonus as a 16-year-old in 2015, just missed the Top 100, landing at No. 101 after he put up a combined .368/.420/.553 line in 51 games and 207 PAs between the Gulf Coast Nationals and NY/Penn League’s Auburn Doubledays last season, with 14 doubles, three triples and five home runs in his first pro season... as a 17-year-old.
Though he landed at 101 this winter, Law suggested Soto could end up in the Top 50 on next winter’s list.