MLB.com released its annual top 100 prospects list and the Nationals had three players ranked. Center fielder Victor Robles was listed at No. 6, while outfielder Juan Soto is No. 29 and shortstop Carter Kieboom checks in at No. 90.
This list was in contrast to the Baseball America 2018 preliminary release, which had only Robles and Soto in the top 100.
MLB.com said the prospects are ranked based on “players’ skill sets, the ability to make a long-term impact and potential in the Major Leagues.”
The top three prospects on the list are well known in baseball circles and have been talk of the winter months: right-hander/outfielder Shohei Ohtani of the Angels, outfielder Ronald Acuna of the Braves and third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays.
It is no secret Robles is coveted and he is constantly the subject of trade discussions by other teams, most notably the Nats’ reported recent pursuit of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Reports suggested that the Marlins wanted a one-for-one trade involving Robles for Realmuto straight up. So far, neither side has budged.
MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro has reported that the Nationals have offered Kieboom and right-hander Erick Fedde as part of a package to acquire Realmuto.
But there is still time before spring training begins to swing a deal. It was about this time of year a season ago when the Nationals appeared to have no interest in catcher Matt Wieters, then went out and signed him to a two-year deal.
Wieters underperformed offensively in 2017 and had a struggle defensively in the National League Division Series, but has worked hard in the offseason to shed weight and come in ready to go after exercising his player option for the 2018 campaign.
But president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo and company know this is the season of all seasons to get it done in a watered down National League and the prospect of losing superstar Bryce Harper to free agency at the conclusion of the season. A deal to nab Realmuto would put them right up there with the Dodgers and Cubs for the most complete teams heading into spring training.
Robles’ value to the Nationals is extremely high because of his talent on the field but also because of the status of Harper. Robles provides a unique insurance policy for the future of the Nats outfield because of that specialized and thorough skill set, possibly giving the Nats a more speed-oriented outfield in the future.