FEB. 21: Chicago would trade Robertson and possibly eat some of his salary if the Nationals were to give up catcher Pedro Severino, according to Phil Rogers of MLB.com (Twitter links). Both MLB.com and Baseball America rank the 23-year-old Severino as one of the Nats’ top 10 prospects. As written below, Washington isn’t eager to deal more young talent; unsurprisingly, then, it would rather move Derek Norris than Severino, per Rogers.
FEB. 12: The White Sox and Nationals seemed to be closing in on a trade that would’ve sent David Robertson to Washington last week, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and Jose L. Ortiz report. According to a Nats official, however, “the two sides have hit a stalemate and no trade is imminent.” The Sox, for their part, continue to feel “optimistic” that a trade will be finalized.
It isn’t known what caused this holdup in talks, though earlier this week, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that Nationals ownership didn’t want to absorb the $25MM owed to Robertson over the next two seasons, nor did the front office want to give up quality minor leaguers. The Nats already surrendered several top prospects to the White Sox earlier this offseason as part of the trade that brought Adam Eaton to Washington; the Nats tried to include Robertson along with Eaton as part of that trade package but were unsuccessful.
On the surface, one could argue that the White Sox could be asking for too much in demanding that the Nationals (or other suitors for Robertson) pay a big price in both prospects and in taking on the closer’s entire contract. That said, Chicago has already scored a massive influx of young talent in the Eaton trade and in dealing Chris Sale to the Red Sox — Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech are all ranked within the top 32 on Baseball America’s 2017 listing of the top 100 prospects in baseball. Between these deals and the asking price for Jose Quintana, White Sox GM Rick Hahn has clearly put a premium on his top trade chips as part of his effort to bring a “critical mass” of talent into Chicago’s organization.
Unless Robertson gets injured or has a dip in form, the Sox can also bide their time and wait until the trade deadline to find a suitable return for the closer. Given the Nationals’ uncertainty at the back of their bullpen, Washington may not have that luxury. As Nightengale and Ortiz point out, however, the Nats could make do with Blake Treinen or Shawn Kelley as closer for now and then pursue another ninth-inning option later in the season, as they did in acquiring Mark Melancon from the Pirates at last summer’s deadline.