Please brace yourself for this news because it may be powerful enough to knock you down: The Nationals have “been reluctant to make Victor Robles available” in their trade talks with the Rockies on Nolan Arenado and the Cubs on Kris Bryant. That comes via MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, who had a series of tweets about the trade market Thursday afternoon.
The 22-year-old center fielder would almost certainly have to be the centerpiece in any deal the Cubs would make, since he plays a position of need and is under control for four more years. And though a 91 wRC+ in his first full season doesn’t say much, he’s got the potential to be a true impact player.
#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
As such, the Nationals should very well be reluctant to part with him as they seek to replace Anthony Rendon’s production at third base. There’s also the matter of timing, which is still in flux as everyone awaits decisions from Josh Donaldson and the arbitrator in Bryant’s service-time grievance. Those events will set the market for the hot corner by more clearly defining both value and need.
Should Donaldson go to Minnesota, there could be a feeding frenzy among NL East opponents — the Phillies and Braves have also been connected to Bryant — to make a move. That would perhaps be even more true if the Braves bring Donaldson back, though you have to wonder why that hasn’t happened already if they’ve truly got a four-year deal on the table for him as has been reported. The moral of the story is that there are a lot of moving parts, but you already knew that.
The deeper meaning to all this, however, may be that the Cubs could be viewed as less likely to trade their superstar because other teams aren’t going to part with their own rising stars in return. The thing about trading for a guy who’s only got two years of control at a fairly significant salary commitment is that only win-now teams are in the mix. Even if the Cubs are looking to take a step back in 2020, they aren’t looking to conduct another five-year rebuild. That means they’re at least in the win-soon category.
All of which is to say that it’s really difficult to find a team with young talent at or on the cusp of the MLB level that’s willing to part for it in exchange for shorter-term solution. There have been reports of the Cubs asking for three of the Braves’ top four prospects and now of them asking for Robles from the Nats, all of which seem to be non-starters.
And that isn’t to say that the Cubs are proactively calling teams and seeking those players out, just that exploratory conversations started by other teams have yielded very rich asks. I suppose that should be obvious, but there’s been a pervasive sense among a growing segment of Cubs fans that the team needs to go ahead and move Bryant now before he inevitably leaves.
Maybe, and this is wild so hear me out, they should hold onto their best players and then work on extensions next season. Assuming, that is, they’re attempting to get under the CBT threshold this season in an effort to reset their penalties — or, more accurately, to make themselves eligible for rev-sharing payouts and rebates — and once again open the doors to a massive payroll. Jon Lester and José Quintana will roll off the books, so it’s possible there’d be room for extensions AND and big free agent or two.
Whoa, sorry, that must have been a fever dream. Anyway, the lack of anything solid has left us with little else to do but speculate at this point. I know that angers some of you out there who hunger for facts and facts alone, but you’re just going to have to be patient.