NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. - What did Mike Rizzo go and do? Washington’s GM acquired 28-year-old outfielder Adam Eaton from Chicago’s White Sox in return for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, two of the Nationals’ top prospects on just about every prospect list, and righty Dane Dunning, a 2016 1st Round pick. Did Rizzo really just give up that much?
White Sox’ GM Rick Hahn described the package he received as three potential top of the rotation starters.
“We view all three of them actually as having the potential to become front-end of the rotation fixtures for us over an extended period of time,” Hahn said, noting that there, “... is still a fair amount of development,” with both Giolito and Lopez, and Dunning is, in his words, “further behind,” but a prospect the White Sox, “had on their draft board very high,” last June and is, “someone our amateur scouts were excited about acquiring over the last few days as his name came up.”
Rizzo didn’t deny that the Nationals parted with talented pitchers who could one day make an impact at the major league level.
Hahn noted that with Giolito, Lopez, Dunning and Michael Kopech, who was acquired in the trade that sent Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox, the White Sox, “... got four guys, all of whom have the potential to be at the front end of the White Sox’ rotation for a long time.”
Chicago traded Sale to the Boston, and got three of the four players Washington had reportedly offered for the lefty, minus only Nationals’ outfield prospect Victor Robles, in return for Eaton, a 28-year-old outfielder who put up a .284/.362/.428 line, with 29 doubles, nine triples and 14 home runs in a 6.0 fWAR campaign in 2016, who happens to come with an affordable contract that pays him $4M this season, $6M in 2018 and $8.4M in 2019 with a club option for $9.5M in 2020 (or a $1.5M buyout) and another option for $10.5M in 2021 (or a $1.5M buyout).
By this point, execs are pretty uniform in their assessment: surprised to shocked the Nats gave up that much for Adam Eaton.— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) December 8, 2016
“It's not how many players you trade away, it's who you trade away,” Rizzo said when he spoke after the trade in a press conference at the 2016 Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland after the deal.
“To acquire a player with this skill set that has the years of control and the favorable -- the contract that he has — takes good players in return. We're fortunate enough, we trade from a position of depth. We felt we have great depth in our starting pitching. We utilized that to turn a relatively -- a hole in our lineup, and we dealt from strength and depth to correct that and we still like the depth that we have beyond the Major League rotation.
“We still have our rotation intact from last year, we haven't touched that and we still feel that we have a good amount of Major League-caliber pitching depth behind it.”
Rizzo was asked about including Giolito in several recent offers, after he’d previously been viewed as untouchable.
“I think the determining factor to do a deal that included Lucas was the player that we got in return,” he explained.
“It was something that fit for us well. We liked, again, the flexibility of the contract and the control of the player and the player itself.
“The analytical side of it was very, very positive. Our scouts loved him, loved the way he played. I think he brings a good package to the ballclub.”
Nationals’ scouts were also confident that Eaton can move back to center after he was shifted to right last season in Chicago.
“Our scouts have evaluated him,” Rizzo said, “and we've seen him play quite a bit over the last couple years, including this year. It was one of the few times in the draft room, in the war room, where the analytical information matched up with the scouting eye, and it was a decision in the room that was fairly easy for us to make to determine that this was the player at this time.”
“He gave us the most value for the players that we were giving up and it's a fit that, again, makes us better on the field and also makes us better in the clubhouse, and it brings energy between the lines and gives us a little edge and excitement at the ballpark.”
So what’s next? How about that closer the Nationals are after?
Nats have talked to rays about closer Alex colome. Would be great get. Not sure they'll trade him but would be selling high— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 8, 2016
Colome, 27, saved 37 games in 2016, posting a 1.91 ERA, a 2.92 FIP, 15 walks (2.38 BB/9) and 71 Ks (11.28 K/9) in 56 2⁄3 innings pitched, over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .206/.265/.306 line.