Crossroads looms for Victor Robles and his future with the Washington Nationals

Enigmatic. That is likely to be the easiest way to sum up Victor Robles’s main league profession with the Washington Nationals.

Arising via the minor leagues, Robles was hailed as one of the vital gifted younger gamers within the system, not only for the Nationals, however all of baseball — bear in mind, till proper earlier than Juan Soto was known as up, Robles was frequently considered extra extremely.

Due to how extremely rated he was, his title saved popping up in commerce rumors each time the Nationals have been linked with a participant. JT Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, the record went on.

Normal Supervisor Mike Rizzo and the remainder of the entrance workplace saved saying no although. The outfielder was deemed untouchable and thought of a giant a part of the franchise’s future within the outfield.

And in Robles’s first style of big-league motion, he began to reside as much as that billing. he had quick stints within the majors in 2017 and 2018, then bought his first full season with the key league crew in 2019 because the crew went on to win the World Sequence, with Robles a giant a part of that.

By means of these first three years, Robles slashed .258/.327/.431 with a 96 wRC+ whereas hitting 20 house runs, scoring 96 runs, and swiping 31 bases. The offensive manufacturing was strong, if not spectacular. What was spectacular, nevertheless, was his protection, which made him a Gold Glove finalist in 2019, and balanced out the bat wanting prefer it was nonetheless creating.

Sure, there have been some errors within the subject and on the bases, however at that time, it was forgivable as a rookie enjoying with exuberance to try to make issues occur.

Quick ahead simply over two years and, nicely, the one approach Robles has gone is backward.

For the reason that Nationals hoisted the World Sequence, the still-young outfielder has a slash line of simply .215/.303/.303 and a wRC+ of 68. In 35 extra plate appearances than earlier than the World Sequence, Robles has hit 14 fewer house runs, stole 13 fewer bases, and greater than halved his energy output from a .173 ISO on the finish of 2019 to a .088 ISO since then.

Whereas his offensive manufacturing evaporates, Robles continues to make, at instances, head-scratching selections on the bases and in heart subject. It was forgivable a couple of years in the past, however now, it’s simply irritating, particularly with a supervisor who laments getting the little issues unsuitable.

Nearly 5 years on from his first name as much as the key leagues and the Nationals nonetheless don’t know for sure whether or not Robles ought to be part of their long-term future in heart subject, and with each passing day this season, the strain mounts on the entrance workplace to seek out the reply.

With one other shedding season just about a definitely this yr, a commerce deadline sell-off ought to observe once more this summer time, and the Nationals GM confirmed as a lot on his weekly radio spot.

“We nonetheless have a protracted method to determine that out,” Rizzo informed 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports activities Junkies earlier this month.

“I might assume that if we’re enjoying on the fee we’re enjoying, we’ll most likely watch out sellers, and be sure that we maximize the gamers at the least with expiring contracts.”

So, it’s protected to count on that the Nats will commerce the likes of Josh Bell, Nelson Cruz, Steven Cishek, and César Hernández if there are groups on the market keen to half with prospects for them.

Robles, nevertheless, has two extra years of contractual management remaining earlier than he can grow to be a free agent. Buying and selling him away would not simply be about this yr, it could primarily sign that the Nationals are skeptical about whether or not he can ever flip it round within the majors.

Because the Nats confirmed final yr once they traded away Trea Turner, they could primarily be promoting gamers who’re out of contract on the finish of the yr, however they aren’t against buying and selling away gamers with management for the precise deal — even when Robles fetches approach lower than Turner.

The New York Publish’s Joel Sherman might see a match for Robles with the Yankees, who lack a real heart fielder, with Aaron Decide at the moment manning the place most nights…

“Ought to the Yankees strive for one thing like… Washington’s righty-swinging Victor Robles to begin in opposition to lefties plus defend in heart late with a lead?”

There’s positively some attraction for contending groups so as to add a participant similar to Robles who on the very least will be capable of play heart subject to a excessive stage and add pace on the bases, particularly within the postseason when groups attempt to extract each benefit doable, even when the query marks round his bat mount.

The return received’t be near the usual of participant that was when he was a prospect on the verge of breaking via to the majors. However in some unspecified time in the future, if the entrance workplace thinks the possibilities of him fulfilling his potential are low, they might be smart to chop their losses.

And therein lies the choice. Is what the Nationals might realistically get again in a commerce for Robles value probably promoting low on a participant who may need the best uncooked expertise on their roster? Or do they hold using it out and hope for a turnaround that will by no means come?

The reply will grow to be clear quickly because the commerce deadline approaches and suitors for a participant like Robles reveal themselves. If there are any keen to surrender a lot for him, that’s.

Till then, the Nationals don’t have so much to lose by giving Robles as many alternatives as doable to see what they’ve within the younger heart fielder, however time could also be operating out…