5:20pm: The Associated Press reports that Robles will make $2.325MM this year with next year’s club option valued at $3.3MM. There’s no buyout on the option.
1:30pm: The Nationals announced that they have avoided arbitration with Victor Robles by agreeing to a one-year contract for 2023 plus a club option for 2024. The financial terms were not disclosed, but this will give the club cost certainty for the second of his three arbitration years and an option for his third. This deal won’t alter the club’s length of control over his services. Even if they were to turn down the option for 2024, they could still retain Robles by going through the arbitration process again next offseason.
Robles, 26 in May, was once one of the top prospects in the league, with Baseball America ranking him as high as #5 in 2018. He got his first extended stretch of major league playing time in 2019, hitting 17 home runs on the way to a .255/.326/.419 batting line. Since that was the “juiced ball” season where offense was up all around the league, that production actually led to a wRC+ of just 92, indicating he was 8% below league average at the plate. Nonetheless, he stole 28 bases and was given strong grades for his glovework, leading to a tally of 3.5 wins above replacement in the eyes of FanGraphs.
That was just his age-22 season and it seemed fair to expect even better days ahead. Unfortunately, his offense has taken a big step backward since that time. In the past three seasons, Robles has hit just .216/.291/.306 for a wRC+ of 66. He has still been graded well in the field and swiped 27 bags in that time, but the lack of offense has subtracted any value created in other areas, with FanGraphs ranking his work in that stretch as exactly replacement level.
Robles qualified for arbitration for the first time a year ago and earned a salary of $1.65MM in 2022. For his second trip through the process, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Robles for a raise to $2.5MM. He and the club didn’t agree to a 2023 salary prior to the filing deadline in January, with Robles submitting a $2.6MM figure and the club at $2.3MM. Instead of going to a hearing for that small gap, they have now agreed to a deal, though the details still haven’t emerged.
The Nats have leaned hard into a rebuild over the past couple of seasons, trading away just about every established player of value, including Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Juan Soto and more. Robles has stuck around, likely because his extended run of poor performance has burned up any trade value he once had. But for the Nats, there’s little harm in continuing to run him out there and hoping for a bounceback.
Robles could potentially be the club’s everyday center fielder this year, though it remains to be seen how much leeway he’ll get if his offense doesn’t improve. Lane Thomas will likely be next to him in a corner role but has the potential to play up the middle. Other options for the outfield spots include Corey Dickerson, Joey Meneses, Alex Call and Stone Garrett. This deal now closes the book on the club’s arbitration class, as Robles was the last one without a deal worked out for this season.
Bart Harley Jarvis
Robles has way too much talent to just poop the futon like he has since 2019.
@Bart Harley Jarvis
Really good defense but the bat leaves a lot to be desired. He’s looking like a 4th OF, maybe a weak side platoon bat now.
Talent can only take you so far. Brains and heart are needed as well
MAT is a better player than Robles ever will be. He’s been worth more WAR since 2019 than Robles.
Hello. Been watching Robles since a doubleheader at Harrisburg PA when he was “the” Nationals prospect. Soto was coming up behind in the organization, lapped him — and we know what the Lerner family did next.
Robles seems like a guy who’s trying too hard to be the player the algorithms want. Maybe that was accentuated by the 2019 ball.
In any event, I hope he finds a constructive way to approach his at-bats.
The right coach can? turn it around for him?
I mean, he has the tools and athletic ability.
What’s he doing in the off-season to regain his form?
Work with Rickey Henderson???
Anything that works and takes will be fine. A lot of Nats fans have been thinking good thoughts for him for a few years now.
Michael A Taylor tracked Robles a few years older. Taylor has his own offensive limits — maybe not that different. But Taylor always seemed more committed to working on the gaps in his game.
Let’s just say Robles’ base-running is not very heads-up. I used to try to defend him on the grounds he was trying too hard to make things happen, but I finally lost faith in his ability to learn from his mistakes. At least he still has chops on defense and bounces back quickly from injuries. You can say that for him at least.
Yes, his base running blunders have been frequent and painful.
A 66 wrc+ ? They didn’t disclose the financials bc he ended up owing money
Signed at barely above the team’s arbitration offer, plus a club option for next season with no buyout? That’s a lot of concessions from Robles’ side.
I was hoping that he would be available via trade (to the Jays). With the “commitment” he secured that seems less likely.
If the 2024 club option conveys with no added conditions this should make Robles more marketable via trade.
Interesting. I see it the other way. This deal suggests the Nats want to keep him around. If Robles returns to his 2018/2019 form, picking up the option is a forgone conclusion. If he continues on his current trajectory, the option is declined and he goes through his last year of arb. Either way, it’s a show me year for Robles. Any offer of a trade would have to exceed Rizzo’s perception of Robles based on the contract he offered.
Another guy that Rizzo apparently doesn’t think needs more minor league K/W last year:
That’s ridiculous, and two of those guys are very young.
C.J. Abrams should definitely be in AAA. Still can’t believe Robles was higher thought of as a prospect than Juan Soto.
I guess it depends on who you are listening to. Many in the Nats organization felt Soto was the better prospect. It’s just that Robles was a year older and rushed to the majors at age 20. IMHO, I think too many people got into Robles head. He was a free swinger and was told to take more pitches. Pitchers would throw the ball just off the plate, Robles would take, and the umpires would still call it a strike. That messes with his head. He would greatly improve with Robo umps. He is still just 25. There is still time.
Mendoza Line 215
If I member correctly the Pirates tried to get Robles for Andrew McCutcheon after the 2017 season.Maybe they should have tried to get Soto instead.But they ended up getting Reynolds which was a good consolation prize.