MLB Network analyst Jon Morosi got Washington, D.C. talking this afternoon with a note on Twitter which suggested that the Nationals, who are in the market for a third baseman this winter after losing Anthony Rendon to free agency, are, “... pursuing trade options in case Josh Donaldson signs elsewhere,” before adding that, “sources say they’ve been reluctant to make Victor Robles available in discussions with [Rockies] on [Nolan] Arenado and [Cubs] on [Kris] Bryant.”
#Nats pursuing trade options in case Josh Donaldson signs elsewhere, but sources say they’ve been reluctant to make Victor Robles available in discussions with #Rockies on Arenado and #Cubs on Bryant. @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 2, 2020
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo has, of course, refused to include Robles (or Juan Soto) in previous trade talks over the years, and he told NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas this winter that they were both young, talented, controllable, vital players in the organization, which is why he’s declined to include them in previous deals.
This is partly an expected answer, but it’s also an answer from Mike Rizzo when I asked him about Soto/Robles contract futures during a sit-down at the Winter Meetings. Seems a good day to send it out again considering some tweets here on Twitter dot com: pic.twitter.com/SmihRjg6xn— Todd Dybas (@Todd_Dybas) January 2, 2020
“Both of those guys are under control for a long time. We have plans for both of those guys,” Rizzo told Dybas. “They’re vital pieces of our organization. They’re players that in the past were highly sought after in trades. There was a lot of discussion in the analyst world that thought we should package some of those guys up and trade them away. We refused to do it because of the character and the skill set that they have. They’re going to be vital members for us for a long time.”
Meanwhile, former Nationals’ GM and current columnist for The Athletic, Jim Bowden, is out there making bold predictions about the kind of trades and signings we might see over the next few weeks, and he has the Nationals including top infield prospect Carter Kieboom in a deal with the Cubs for Bryant, suggesting the hypothetical trade would also send two pitching prospects to Chicago:
“March 2020 ... [the Cubs] trade third baseman Kris Bryant to the Washington Nationals in exchange for infielder Carter Kieboom, right-handed pitcher Jackson Rutledge and left-handed pitcher Tim Cate.”
The return in any potential trade for Bryant, of course, depends in large part on the ruling in his service time grievance with the Cubs, which will determine if he has one or two years of team control remaining. Their top infield prospect (who might start at 2B this year), 2019 1st Round pick, and 2018 2nd Round pick for 1-2 years of Bryant? Should the Nats jump on that sort of deal or run away?
And any trade talks for the Nationals assume that their rumored top target at third this winter, Josh Donaldson, has signed on elsewhere, though Rizzo has in the past stressed that he always has a Plan B, C, and D in the works when it comes to roster building.
So, the Nats and the rest of the teams believed to be in on Donaldson remain in a holding pattern until he finds the right deal? Or should they act quickly and pivot to find a third baseman?