The Nationals were in the mix for Aroldis Chapman right up until the end of the Yankees’ negotiations with the Cubs, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark, and general manager Mike Rizzo and his staff are still on the hunt for a relief ace that could anchor the back of the bullpen and provide an upgrade over Jonathan Papelbon. Citing rival clubs that have spoken with the Nationals, Stark reports that Andrew Miller, Wade Davis and David Robertson are all on the radar for the Nats.
The asking price on Miller and Davis is said to be otherworldly, of course, as evidenced by a recent report from Yahoo’s Jeff Passan which stated that the Royals kicked around Lucas Giolito’s name when internally discussing the notion of trading Davis. Beyond that, Stark reported yesterday that the package sent from the Cubs to the Yankees in exchange for Chapman — Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford — wouldn’t have pried Davis away from Kansas City. The price on Miller, as has been the case since discussions about potentially trading him surfaced back in May, is exceptionally high. The Yankees were said to be fixated on Kyle Schwarber in talks pertaining to Miller, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports again emphasizes that the Yankees would want MLB-ready talent from the Nationals in exchange for Miller, suggesting that names like Giolito and Joe Ross could surface in talks.
According to Stark, the Nationals aren’t willing to part with Giolito, Trea Turner or Reynaldo Lopez in their quest to upgrade the bullpen, which makes the addition of either Miller or Davis seem decidedly unlikely. Robertson, on the other hand, would perhaps be another story given the facts that he’s owed roughly $29.15MM through the end of his contract and hasn’t seen his results with the White Sox match up with his otherwise pristine track record.
Robertson has managed an excellent strikeout rate both this year and last, and his 2016 ground-ball rate of 46.7 percent is the second-best of his career. However, he’s sporting a troublesome 4.46 ERA with the Sox this season and has a 3.82 mark since signing with the team. Robertson has struggled with location, leading to an increase in walks (4.7 BB/9) and home runs (1.3 HR/9, 14.3 percent homer-to-flyball ratio) in 40 1/3 innings this year. Optimists can point to the fact that 16 of the 20 runs yielded by Robertson since Opening Day have come across just four disastrous outings and he’s been otherwise excellent, but the bottom-line results haven’t been as consistent as the ChiSox would hope.
Beyond the prospects the Nationals would have to surrender, finances also have to factor into the equation. Washington reportedly struggled to attract free agents this offseason because the club had to factor deferred money into nearly all of its offers, in part due to the longstanding dispute with the Orioles over the shared MASN television network rights fees. (The Nats also convinced Papelbon to take a slightly lesser 2016 salary than his club option called for in exchange for exercising it immediately upon completion of last summer’s trade.) Robertson’s salary is the most prohibitive, but Davis is slated to earn $10MM next season via a club option, and Miller is owed $9MM in each of the next two seasons. None of the three is an insurmountable sum, but the finances involved with each reliever in question add another layer to the calculus of negotiating a trade.