There is a glaring hole at third base in our nation’s capital and the Washington Nationals are looking to fix it.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi is reporting the Nationals are considering a trade for Kris Bryant.
This comes as no surprise considering the Nationals did not replace Anthony Rendon after he moved onto the Los Angeles Angels last offseason. The Cubs, and what seemed like every team across the league, were rumored to be in trade talks, with Bryant’s name the centerpiece at the Winter Meetings 11 months ago, as well.
Why Should the Cubs Consider This?
Last month, fellow On Tap writer Brian Mischler discussed why or why not the Cubs should offer the Cubs third baseman an extension.
In short, extending Bryant might be the wrong move due to injury history, and his lack of production because of said injuries, the last three seasons.
Committing long-term money to him seems worrisome. Sometimes, players don’t increase production in what many call the ‘prime seasons,’ which Bryant is entering next season.
However, if healthy, Bryant is one of the best players at his position in the National League. He’s one of the best base runners in the game, Mischler highlights, 11th best in baseball since 2015 to be exact.
Bryant is sixth in baseball in fWAR since 2015, behind only Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Fransisco Lindor, Josh Donaldson, and Christian Yelich.
When you consider these facts, despite his worst season as a professional in 2020, history shows Bryant still has high value and the Cubs need to at least listen to all offers.
Nationals Are in a Similar Position as the Cubs
After winning the World Series in 2019, Washington failed to make the postseason in a year the playoffs were expanded to allow more teams in. The team underachieved, more so than what fans probably think about the Cubs offense in 2020.
However, with a rotation that still includes names like Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasberg, and Patrick Corbin, you have to think the Nationals believe they can get back to the postseason with some cautious, but effective, moves this offseason.
Getting to Know Robles and Kieboom
Like a lot of players, Robles struggled in 2020 and finished the season with a negative WAR, per Fangraphs.
Robles’ slashline was .220/.293/.315 in 189 plate appearances. His weighted runs created plus (wRC+) was 35 percent below league average (65). In short, he was not very productive, but he does play a very good center field, which is a need for the Cubs unless they plan on letting Ian Happ play center field full-time.
His final year pre-arbitration is 2021, so, I wonder how much value the Cubs have in him now after being very interested in him last offseason and not seeing much production overall.
Kieboom wasn’t much better, finishing with a negative WAR in 122 plate appearances, too. He finished with a slashline of .202/.344/.212.
Kieboom has only compiled 165 plate appearances with the Nationals over the course of two seasons, however. He is still raw and as we’ve seen with some Cubs players ourselves, not all develop quickly like we all hope.
He’s a projection type prospect at this point. He can play any spot in the infield, but right now it’s hard to tell what kind of player he can be at the major league level.
Bryant’s value is as low as its ever been with the Cubs, coming off a .206/.293/.351 season. This might be the best offer new President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer can get for Bryant.
Both Robles and Kieboom have high ceilings, but there is no guarantees. With the direction still unknown for Cubs fans, we’ll just have to wait and see.