HomeMLB RumorsNationals Designate Víctor Robles For Assignment

Nationals Designate Víctor Robles For Assignment

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The Nationals announced today that outfielder Lane Thomas has been reinstated from the injured list with fellow outfielder Víctor Robles designated for assignment in a corresponding move. The club’s 40-man roster count drops to 38.

Robles, now 27, was once the club’s top prospect and one of the top prospects in the entire league. Per the rankings from Baseball America, he was the Nationals’ #1 prospect in three straight years from 2017 to 2019. He was also on BA’s top 100 league-wide list from 2016 to 2019, getting as high as #5 overall going into 2018.  The expectation at that time was that Robles had the capability of being an all-around contributor and a long-term part of the outfield in Washington.

Things seemed to be in a good place in 2019, the year the Nats won the World Series. Robles hit 17 home runs and slashed .255/.326/.419. Despite the long balls, his 5.7% walk rate kept the on-base low and the wRC+ of 92 indicates he was actually a bit below average offensively overall. But thanks to above-average defense and stealing 28 bases, FanGraphs credited him as being worth 3.7 wins above replacement in his age-22 season.

Given his youth, the Nats undoubtedly expected him to continue evolving as a hitter as he aged. Unfortunately, things moved in the opposite direction in the years to come. From 2020 to 2022, Robles got into 291 games with the Nats but hit just .216/.291/.306 in that time for a wRC+ of 66. The club’s fortunes also faded in that time and they entered a rebuilding phase.

That theoretically left Robles with plenty of playing time to get back on track, but his health hasn’t really allowed him to do so. He only got into 36 games last year due to back spasms in the lumbar spine. He did perform well when on the field, hitting a solid .299/.385/.364, but hasn’t carried that over in 2024. He spent about a month on the injured list due to left hamstring strain and has produced a brutal line of .120/.281/.120 in the 14 games he has played.

Robles was slated to reach free agency after the 2024 campaign and the Nationals were likely hoping for a nice run of play this season, at least allowing them to flip Robles for something at the deadline before he slipped away from them for nothing. Unfortunately, his performance hasn’t inspired much confidence and they are cutting him off the roster today.

They will now have a week to trade him or pass him through waivers, though any interest is likely to be fairly modest after years of poor performance and injury absences. He’s making a salary of $2.65MM this year, with still about two thirds of that left to be paid out. Perhaps the Nats will try to eat some of that money to facilitate a deal but it’s also possible that Robles just ends up released. He has enough service time that he can reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency while keeping all that money intact.

It’s undeniably been a disappointing few years and hardly what the club had in mind, given the prospect pedigree and the promising start to his career. But for Robles personally, it’s not too late for him to find a second act somewhere. He just turned 27 last week and could perhaps get back on track with a run of good health and the right opportunity.

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