The utility infielder probably is a future roster casualty for the Washington Nationals. Adam Lind earns the spot after his signing.
Monday, in a surprise move, the Nats signed free agent Adam Lind to a one-year/$1 million deal with an option for 2018. With Lind’s power and ability to hit around .250, Robinson becomes expendable when the rosters go to 25 next month.
Out of minor-league options, Robinson will need to clear waivers after he is designated for assignment. Any team can claim him and his four years of team-controlled salary. This is his last pre-arbitration season and he will not be eligible for free agency until after 2020.
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After a solid 2015, Robinson’s production slipped last year as he spent most of 2016 as a pinch hitter. His slugging percentage dipped from .424 to .332 as his doubles and home runs tapered off.
When looking at his Adjusted OPS+, he went from an above-average 112 two years ago to a well-below-average 70.
On a bench lacking depth, Lind fills that hole. Although his batting average plunged from .277 to .239 last season, the home run production of 20 remained equal in 142 less plate appearances in his transition from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Seattle Mariners.
Lind’s production comes at bargain-based prices. If he fails to produce, it virtually costs Washington nothing.
Which brings us back to Robinson. After two years in the majors, and at 32, the chances of his accepting an all-expenses paid trip to the lovely city of Syracuse are slim. Instantly, he turns into a trade asset.
When given the chance to play regularly, Robinson does well. In 2015, he started 77 of his 126 games, hitting 10 homers and hitting .272. Whether it is part of the rumored package to land Chicago White Sox reliever David Robertson, or to score a minor-leaguer or two, Robinson has value to another club.
It so happens that club is not Washington unless the injury bug sweeps through West Palm Beach this spring. Lind’s signing is one of a few stealth moves to improve the club Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is known for. To possibly swing that into a package filling a need now or addressing future holes is a stroke of genius.
There is no question Robinson can play at a major-league level. The question is where. We will know in roughly six weeks.