1:58pm: Washington has announced the move. Outfielders Rafael Bautista and Andrew Stevenson will accompany Robles to the majors after receiving some MLB time earlier, which will leave the club with an abundance of outfield possibilities over the next few weeks.
The Nats moved righty Erick Fedde to the 60-day DL to clear the needed roster space. Washington decided to give Robles a chance when Goodwin suffered a setback, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweets.
1:20pm: In a surprise move, the Nationals will promote top outfield prospect Victor Robles, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). He’ll require a 40-man roster spot when the move is formalized.
Robles, who’s still just twenty years of age, has yet to play above the Double-A level. But the Dominican native, who signed for only $225K back in 2013, is widely regarded as one of the game’s ten or so best overall prospects, with scouts widely praising his across-the-board gifts.
Certainly, Robles has done nothing this year to detract from that lofty status. He continued to produce after earning a promotion to the penultimate level of the minors after opening the year at High-A. Through 496 total plate appearances on the season, Robles carries a .300/.382/.493 batting line with ten home runs and 27 steals.
Notably, Robles did not need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft over the coming offseason, so he would not have needed a 40-man spot this winter. And the Nats have little need for an extra player over the final weeks of the season with a division title almost secured already, which hints at other motives.
The move seemingly suggests, rather, that Robles is expected to factor in the team’s plans for the near future. While it’d rate as a surprise were he to play his way onto the postseason roster this season, perhaps that can’t be ruled out. With Jayson Werth set to reach free agency at the end of the year, it’s also conceivable that Robles could stake a claim to a job for 2018.
Perhaps the likeliest scenario, though, would be for Robles to follow the path of Trea Turner, who returned to the minors to open the 2016 season after getting his first cup of coffee in 2015. Robles has spent most of his professional career in center field, making him an ideal fit for the near-future Nats roster. While the club will expect Adam Eaton to be fully healthy in 2018, he’s best utilized in a corner spot. Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin could make for a solid platoon pairing in center if they can sustain some of the strides they’ve shown this year, so there shouldn’t be too much immediate pressure on Robles to prove himself a permanent fixture, but nobody would complain if the young phenom forces the team’s hand.