In his latest rumor roundup on his Facebook page (because you know, FOX SPORTS only does video now), Ken Rosenthal wrote on Tuesday that the Washington Nationals, “... remain adamant that they will not move any of their top three prospects – outfielders Victor Robles and Juan Soto and right-hander Erick Fedde.”
Rumors persist, however, that have the Nationals in the market for a starting pitcher, especially in light of the recent injury scare with Stephen Strasburg, with USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale writing last night that the Nationals are “scouring” the market for a starting arm:
The #Nats, down 7-0 in 8th inning to #Brewers,are scouring market for another starting pitcher to go along with their recent bullpen pickups— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 26, 2017
“One way to address Stephen Strasburg’s latest health scare, though, would be to add a potential free-agent starter who could pitch in relief in the postseason,” Rosenthal said Tuesday night.
MLB.com’s Jon Morosi wrote today that the Nationals had scouts at St. Louis Cardinals’ starter Lance Lynn’s last outing, noting that, “... scouts from the Dodgers and Nationals were among those to attend Tuesday's game in St. Louis,” and adding that Lynn is, “... a rental pitcher with postseason experience, and both the Dodgers and Nationals have suffered recent rotation injuries.”
The Nationals lost Joe Ross for the rest of this season (and likely most of next season) to a torn ulnar collateral ligament, which required Tommy John surgery, so with Edwin Jackson starting, and concerns about Strasburg, a deal for a starting pitcher might be a prudent move.
Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga wrote this afternoon that whether or not the Nationals have Strasburg available, they should be trying to add a starter.
Svrluga, however, argued that the sort of arm they go after should be a top-end arm:
“Not a back-end innings eater who could replace, say, Jackson as the fifth man in the rotation, someone who helps get them through the regular season. No. They’re going to win the division either way. This should be a move for the kind of arm that could anchor a rotation in October, whether Strasburg is available or not.”
The WaPost columnist notes in his article that the Nationals added Max Scherzer to an already-strong rotation that included the likes of Jordan Zimmermann and Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, and Doug Fister, then went after Chris Sale last winter with Scherzer, Strasburg, Roark, Ross, and Gonzalez already in the mix in D.C.
“The point: The Nats had the inclination then. Why shouldn’t they have it now?” he asked rhetorically.
Narrowing the field down to the two best options for the Nationals, the WaPost writer suggested that the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Gerrit Cole and Oakland A’s Sonny Gray are likely the best available options, while noting that he leans toward Gray for the Nationals with the history of trades between the organizations and potential for the righty to improve with a move from the American to the National League.
As for the Nationals’ reluctance to deal their top prospects in one of these deals?
Things might have gotten more difficult with the report today that Juan Soto, who has dealt with an ankle injury this season, had to have surgery to remove the hamate bone in his hand (though the report from MASN’s Byron Kerr didn’t say which hand).
Dusty Baker, according to reports from Nationals Park today, acknowledged Strasburg might not make his next start, and said Fedde, who is the top pitching prospect in the system, is potentially an option to take his turn:
Dusty made it sound like the Nationals are uncertain about Strasburg making his next start. And he said Fedde is definitely an option.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgeccastillo) July 26, 2017
As for Robles?
Rizzo was asked this morning, on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies, if every team that calls this time of year asks about the top outfield prospect in the Nats’ system?
“When it’s a major trade, if it’s a major acquisition on our part they mention his name and it doesn’t go much further than that,” Rizzo said.
“He’s a really good player, he’s got a chance to be a really good player, so teams ask about him. You find out in a hurry who your best players are by who the other teams ask for, and Victor is asked about in just about in every major trade, because the smaller trades they don’t even bother asking for him, and he’s a guy that we’re very reluctant to move because we think he has such great potential.“
Should the Nationals be willing to deal Robles?
“Sure, why not?” Svrulga wrote today. “Last summer, when they needed to, the Cubs traded top prospect Gleyber Torres to the Yankees in a package for closer Aroldis Chapman. They won it all. Think Cubs fans — or the front office, or the clubhouse — regret that move?”
Rizzo knows, and has said, that you have to give up quality to get quality in return, will he be willing to deal his top prospects if it means adding another high-end starter to the mix?