Ahead of Tuesday's game against the Phillies, the Nationals optioned outfielder Victor Robles to Triple-A. A bit of a minor move for a non-contender wouldn't normally be news here, but with Robles, it's worth noting how far his stock has fallen.
Once upon a time, Robles was a contender for being the best prospect in all of baseball. Prior to the 2018 season, he was pretty widely ranked as a top-five prospect (Baseball Prospectus actually had him second). He was set to take over as a starting outfielder for the 2018 Nationals, but when he suffered a major elbow injury, the Nats had to turn to a youngster named Juan Soto (who was ranked on prospect lists much lower than Robles, by the way).
Robles managed a full and productive season in 2019, hitting .255/.326/.419 with 33 doubles, three triples, 17 homers, 65 RBI, 86 runs, 28 steals and 4.4 WAR (the latter pushed up by exceptional defensive numbers). He finished sixth in NL Rookie of the Year voting and had a few good moments during the Nationals' run to the World Series title.
He still hadn't blossomed into a star or anything, but he was a very good everyday player at age 22 on a championship team.
Since then, however, Robles has fallen apart. In 159 games between 2020 and 2021, Robles has hit .209/.304/.302, good for a 70 OPS+ and -.0.4 WAR. Even his defensive metrics have gone south.
That Robles has been demoted on Aug. 31 from a team 20 games under .500 is a stark illustration of how much he's struggled.
The good news is there is still plenty of time for Robles to get things sorted out and have a quality MLB career. He's only 24 years old. The bad news is we've already gotten to see a 1,268 plate appearance sample of Robles hitting major-league pitching and he's sporting a career .237/.317/.375 line.
Robles is still under team control with the Nationals through at least 2024.