Top Nationals prospect Victor Robles has avoided the worst-case scenario after recently suffering a worrisome arm injury, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post was among those to report on Twitter. While details remain scant, skipper Dave Martinez suggested that the team anticipates Robles will avoid surgery and be back at some point in the current season.
It seems that the Nats had largely resigned themselves to losing one of the game’s very best prospects for all of the 2018 season — which would have removed a key security blanket for a club that has endured an underwhelming opening to the new campaign. While he had been cleared of any fractures, the club evidently anticipated that an MRI would reveal some damage to Robles’s elbow, which was injured when his glove was trapped on a diving attempt at a catch in the outfield. The belief now appears to be that Robles will still need to spend a few months rehabbing, but will be able to get back into playing form this year after being cleared of any torn ligaments.
Though Robles obviously wasn’t on the MLB roster to open the year, this still registers as significant news for the Nationals’ near-term plans. With Michael Taylor limping to a .193/.233/.246 slash line out of the gates and Adam Eaton landing on the DL on the heels of a lengthy rehab, it’s certainly possible Robles would already have been called upon had he not been hurt.
Even if the plan called for him to stay at Triple-A for a while — he had skipped the level last year when he made a late-season debut in D.C. — Robles has long seemed to be a key potential mid-season addition. It’s arguable he could function as a major trade chip, too, though that always has felt unlikely given the organization’s near-term outfield needs, its unwillingness to deal Robles in the past, and his readiness to make his own contribution to a postseason push.
While the Nationals still need to get back to full health and find some improvements from within the current active roster, it’s something of a relief for the team to know that Robles could conceivably still be a factor at the MLB level this year. Even if that does not come to pass, the organization ought to be able to get some comfort with Robles’s status heading into the offseason, when some highly consequential decisions will be made on the future of the outfield.