With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, the rumor mill is starting to heat up. To wit: the Washington Nationals are interested in acquiring Charlie Blackmon from the Colorado Rockies, according to Jon Morosi on Twitter.
The Nationals desperately need a center fielder and a leadoff hitter, as the current inhabitant of both of those roles is Ben Revere, who is the not-so-proud owner of a .268 on-base percentage. Blackmon could be a perfect fit in both spots due to his solid center field play and .368 on-base percentage. Blackmon would also provide an additional punch from the top of the Nationals lineup.
For the Rockies, trading Blackmon could make a lot of sense. While Blackmon is having a career year, he also just turned 30 this month, and he’s probably at peak value. He is the perfect combination of a player who can contribute to a contender right now, but who is also expendable for the non-contending Rockies. And unlike some other teams that are rumored to be buyers, the Nationals have a strong enough farm system to get Rockies fan excited about a potential return.
Lucas Giolito headlines the Nationals system, but I highly doubt the Rockies would be able to get him in return for just Blackmon. In addition to Giolito, however, the Nationals farm system is ripe with prospects that could add even greater talent and depth to an already loaded Rockies system. Victor Robles, the Nationals No. 3 prospect, would probably be the highest prospect available in a trade.
Before the season, this is what I wrote about Victor Robles when we thought the Rockies might be trading one of their outfielders to the Nationals.
Victor Robles, an outfielder, is a young raw prospect that the Nationals signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 at the age of 16. Robles has already demonstrated an advanced approach at the plate, including a .343./.424/.479 triple slash at Low-A this past season as an 18-year-old. Robles has the speed of a center fielder and the arm of a right fielder.
Robles is a long ways from the majors, with an ETA of 2018-2019. However, if the Rockies do succesfully trade two, or even all three, of their current outflielders, having another top outfield prospect in the system behind David Dahl and Ramiel Tapia would make a lot of sense.
Since then, Robles tore Low-A ball, earning a mid-season promotion to High-A. He’s struggled a bit since the promotion, but that’s not all that unexpected for a 19-year-old having to adjust to that high of a level of competition.
Even if the Nationals declare Robles off limits, there are still plenty of intriguing arms in the Nationals system, such as Reynaldo Lopez, A.J. Cole, and Eric Fedde, that could make a Blackmon trade happen.
The biggest disincentive for the Rockies not to make this trade would be if they feel that they will be competing for a playoff spot next year and that Charlie Blackmon is an essential part of that plan. While Blackmon’s presumptive replacement, David Dahl, is currently destroying Triple-A, it would be tough for any prospect to immediately jump in and replace Blackmon’s production. At the same time, however, Dahl will need to get his feet wet and log major-league at bats. Blackmon might keep Dahl out of the major-league lineup in 2016, but it’s hard to see how he can do so in 2017.
Most trade rumors end up as nothing more than rumors. However, this trade makes a lot of sense for all parties involved. The Nationals have a top-heavy farm system and are poised to win the division and make a deep run into the postseason, while the Rockies are long shots to contend this year and look like they’ll have a crowded outfield in 2017, which includes Blackmon’s heir in center field. The biggest hang-up at this point might just be whether or not the Colorado Rockies and Jeff Bridich are willing to sell at this deadline.