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Washington Nationals Rumors: Does a deal for David Robertson make sense for Nats?

After pursuing a number of free agent options and trades this winter, the Nationals are reportedly still pursuing relief help. Will they find it?

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo reportedly tried to acquire veteran reliever David Robertson from Chicago as part of the deal that eventually sent three prospects to the White Sox in return for Adam Eaton.

USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale reported in early December that the White Sox refused to include the closer, and would try to deal Robertson separately.

A day after the Eaton trade,’s Mark Zuckerman reported that the Nats were still talking to the Sox, writing that a source familiar with the discussions said Robertson remained a target.

“We've discussed this player [Eaton] and several other players with the White Sox for quite a while now,” GM Mike Rizzo told reporters in the immediate aftermath of the Eaton trade being announced.

Robertson, who turns 32 in April, is coming off a 37-save season in Chicago which saw him post a 3.47 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 32 walks (4.62 BB/9) and 75 Ks (10.83 K/9) in 62 13 IP.

He finished the 2016 campaign at 1.0 fWAR, and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery this winter to repair a meniscus issue, though he is expected to be at full strength for Spring Training.

Robertson has $25M left on the 4-year/$46M free agent deal he signed with the White Sox in 2014.

Writing about the Nationals’ pursuit of relief help this winter,’s Ken Rosenthal wrote this morning that, “the Nats continue to discuss a trade with the White Sox for closer David Robertson, according to major-league sources.”:

“Robertson is owed $12 million this season and $13 million next season,” Rosenthal noted, “creating an all-too-typical Nats obstacle. The team does not want to absorb Robertson’s entire obligation, and does not want to move additional prospects after parting with three young pitchers for Eaton, sources say.”

Rizzo was asked, after he dealt Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 1st Round pick Dane Dunning to the Sox, if the Nats still had the prospect depth to trade for a closer if he found the right deal?

“I think we do,” he said. “We have a really fertile minor league system that people have asked for throughout the winter so far.”

Would you be comfortable with the Nationals dealing more prospects for a closer at this point?

Is Robertson enough of an improvement over the in-house options to justify such a deal?

What would it take?

Would the Nationals have to include Victor Robles, the top outfield prospect in the organization, in any deal for Robertson?

Is Robles a non-starter for any potential deal? Would the Nationals be willing to trade “catcher of the future” Pedro Severino?

As Rosenthal notes, “Washington’s only bullpen additions — Joe Nathan, Matt Albers, Tim Collins, Vance Worley, Neal Cotts — have been on minor-league contracts.”

Do you see any of the above claiming the closer’s role?

They do add depth to the bullpen corps, but after pursuing the likes of Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen and Greg Holland, it’s clear the Nationals felt the need to add to the mix in the bullpen.

They have said all along that they’re comfortable with available in-house options if the right deal isn’t there.

Their actions this winter suggest they might not be as comfortable as they’ve publicly stated.