Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga reported last winter that the Nationals offered a package that included Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Victor Robles to the Chicago White Sox when Washington was trying to acquire Chris Sale, who was eventually dealt to the Boston Red Sox.
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo, having missed out on Sale, traded Giolito, Lopez, and 2016 draft pick Dane Dunning to the White Sox in return for veteran outfielder Adam Eaton.
“Don’t expect Robles to reappear in offers for other players,” Svrluga added in a follow-up tweet on the trade rumors that were swirling around the 2016/17 Winter Meetings.
“Nationals unwilling to part with Robles now that Sale is off the table,” Washington Post beat writer Chelsea Janes wrote in a separate tweet. “So not for [Andrew] McCutchen, etc.”
Robles, of course, stayed with the Nationals, who signed the now-20-year-old outfield prospect for $225,000 in 2013, and made his MLB debut in early September before he made the postseason roster for the Nats’ NLDS matchup with the Chicago Cubs.
After putting up a combined .300/.382/.493 line with 37 doubles, eight triples, 10 home runs, and 27 stolen bases between High-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, Robles hit in 6 of 24 major league at bats in September.
While Rizzo has told reporters that the outfielder, ranked No. 3 overall among the top prospects in baseball by MLB’s Pipeline scouts and No. 8 overall by Baseball America in the most-recent iteration of their Top 100 prospects list, would be given every chance to force his way onto the Opening Day roster in 2018, he’s most likely ticketed for AAA at least at the start of the upcoming season.
The decision, Rizzo explained this winter, is where Robles will play every day to start the 2018 campaign.
“Is it going to be in the big league level or is it going to be in the minor league level?” Rizzo asked rhetorically last month when he spoke to reporters at WinterFest in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C.
“It’s never a bad idea to get more minor league at bats, that’s never a bad thing, but he forced his way on the playoff roster last year, and we’re going to give him every opportunity to force his way onto the big league roster, but he will play every day somewhere Opening Day. He’s got to get consistent every day at bats, and he’s going to be a force for us in the very near future.”
While Robles’s name has inevitably come up in trade talks again this winter, reports are that the Nationals are once again unwilling to include the outfielder in potential deals.
“[Washington] definitely wants to upgrade its catching,” The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal wrote on Twitter this past week, after mentioning the Nationals’ rumored interest in Miami Marlins’ catcher J.T. Realmuto, “but does not want to part with Robles or [Juan] Soto, sources say.”
MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, in writing about the Nats’ rumored interest in both Realmuto and Marlins’ outfielder Christian Yelich, “... either individually or perhaps together in what would be a mega package,” noted that a, “... potential trade with the Nationals for Realmuto or Yelich could center around outfielder Victor Robles, ranked No. 3 on the MLB Pipeline Top 100 list.”
Boston Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo, in his weekly Sunday Baseball Notes column, wrote this morning that the Nationals are the latest team to enter the mix for Yelich, the Marlins’ 26-year-old outfielder, who’s put up a combined .290/.369/.432 line in five major league seasons so far, though he added that the, “Marlins are looking for a haul in return, and in Washington’s case, they’re eyeing No. 1 outfield prospect Victor Robles.”
Will Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office be willing to include Robles in a package for one or both of the Marlins, relatively young, controllable players?
Would Rizzo think about dealing Robles for an older, more established outfielder in Yelich, who is coming off a strong, 36 double, 18 home run, 4.5 fWAR campaign with the Fish, and is under contract through 2022 at a relatively cheap $58.25M?
Should he think about it?