On Tuesday, the Chicago White Sox acquired outfielder Adam Eaton in a three-team trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The complete details of the trade are as follows:
White Sox receive CF Adam Eaton (From Arizona)
Angels receive LHP Hector Santiago (From Chicago) and LHP Tyler Skaggs (From Arizona)
Diamondbacks receive OF/1B Mark Trumbo (From Los Angeles) and a player to be named later from both Los Angeles and Chicago
Overall, this looks like a deal that should really help all parties involved. First, the Angels desperately needed to upgrade their starting rotation and received a pair of young left-handed starting pitchers that they can affordably control for several seasons. Second, the Diamondbacks were looking to add a power-hitting bat to their lineup to provide protection for their MVP-caliber first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. With Mark Trumbo’s potential to hit upwards of 40 homers in Chase Field, Arizona was happy to fill that void. Third and finally, the White Sox were looking to flip one of their left-handed starting pitchers for an everyday player. By acquiring Adam Eaton, the White Sox believe they have found their starting center fielder and leadoff man for the near future.
Like all trades, the performances of each player involved will ultimately decided which teams actually benefitted from the deal. But for now, each organization is feeling a lot better about their rosters after completing the trade.
As for the White Sox side of the deal, I like the move. Although I like the move, I’m not happy about losing Hector Santiago. During his team in Chicago, Santiago has held every role imaginable on the pitching staff. He was a starter, a closer, and a reliever and for the most part Santiago exceeded in each role. Last year, Santiago found his place in the rotation due to injuries and flashed some of his potential while posting a 3.51 ERA and 8.4 SO/9 in 23 starts. While those numbers are solid, Santiago also had a troubling 1.39 WHIP inflated by walking 62 batters in just 130.2 innings pitched as a starter. Santiago has an above-average arm and features good stuff, but his success in Los Angeles will be depend on his ability to keep the ball in the strike zone.
What exactly are the White Sox getting in Adam Eaton? That’s the obvious question and one we won’t be able to fully answer until next season. Scouts are split on what type of player they believe Adam Eaton can become. Some scouts, like those within White Sox organization, feel Eaton can flourish at the top of a lineup and be a solid leadoff hitter given his high contact rates, on-base skills, and disruptive speed. Other scouts think that Eaton may only be a bottom of the order hitter, or even merely a fourth-outfielder. Let’s hope Eaton’s profile ends up being closer to the former, rather than the latter.
As for now, all we can do is judge Eaton based on his minor league and major league statistics. In 1,560 career at-bats, Eaton owns a .348 batting average, a .450 on-base percentage, and a .501 slugging percentage. Those numbers are outstanding, but they are unrealistic expectations at the major league level. In contrast, during Eaton’s 335 major league at bats he has managed to hit just .254, with a .332 OBP and a .373 SLG. Now those numbers are a bit underwhelming, but the sample size is also really small.
So, what should we realistically expect from Adam Eaton? I expect Eaton’s numbers to fall in the middle of his career minor league and major league statistics. Realistically, it is fair to think Eaton can become a .280 to .300 hitter with a .350 to .380 OBP. If those levels are attained, then the White Sox will indeed have themselves a solid table-setter at the top of the order for several years. With Eaton’s speed and supposedly strong baserunning skills, he should steal plenty of bases (probably around 30 a year) and score a bunch of runs if he were to get on base at least 35% of the time.
The jury is still out on Adam Eaton, but I think it is a risk worth taking. At 25 years old and under team control until the 2019 season, the White Sox feel they have obtained another building block for the future.
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