New details emerge about the Nationals’ interest in Cubs star Kris Bryant
The Washington Nationals officially have a hole at third base with Anthony Rendon joining the Los Angeles Angels. Though they could look to sign Josh Donaldson, they may prefer to swing a deal for Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
Nats still have interest in Josh Donaldson. May like Kris Bryant even more, but want to hold Victor Robles, who could interest Chicago.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 12, 2019
Robles would certainly be of interest to the Cubs, who are desperate to make a change in center field. But Washington would be giving up one of their most prized young talents in years if they traded Robles.
The 22-year-old slashed a respectable .255/.326/.419 with 17 homers, but it is his other skill sets that may interest the Cubs. Robles stole 28 bases and finished second in the MLB (behind Cleveland Indians catcher Roberto Perez) with 22 defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs.
Chicago ranked 29th out of 30 teams in stolen bases, and both Jason Heyward and Albert Almora Jr. performed far below expectations from a defensive standpoint. Heyward’s natural position is right field, and the Cubs would love to move him back to the corner while getting a substantial upgrade over Almora–who was one of the worst hitters in baseball terms of wRC+–at the plate.
Meanwhile, Bryant could be more intriguing to the Nationals because he is younger than Donaldson and will be cheaper over the next two years, should he lose his pending service-time grievance case against the Cubs.
The 2016 NL MVP had a nice bounce-back year in 2019 (over .900 OPS), and he may flourish as a run-producer in a Washington lineup that creates havoc at the top of the order.