Chicago traded center fielder Adam Eaton to the Nationals for righthanders Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning late on Day Three of the Winter Meetings, sending shockwaves through the industry.
Eaton, 27, has hit .286/.362/.430 over the last two seasons with 32 stolen bases. A rumored trade candidate as the White Sox rebuild, his price of two Midseason Top 50 prospects (Giolito and Lopez) and the Nationals first-round pick this year (Dunning) nonetheless took most by surprise.
“An important part of the process we are pursuing is acquiring quality pitching talent. We feel like we’ve done that today--and yesterday--en masse,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. “Giolito and Lopez rank among the top prospects in baseball, while Dunning is another young prospect who possesses front-of-the-rotation potential."
WHITE SOX ACQUIRE
Lucas Giolito, rhp
The 2012 first-round pick and four-time BA Top 100 prospect made his long-awaited major league debut in 2016 but struggled, getting rocked for 26 hits and 16 earned runs in 21.1 innings, with more walks (12) than strikeouts (11). Giolito in the past sat in the upper 90s with his fastball and frequently reached triple-digits, but saw his stuff back up and sit in the 92-94 mph range and top out at 96 in 2016 with poor command. That fastball gave Giolito his biggest problems in 2016, with MLB opponents batting .349 against it with a .730 slugging percentage, per Statcast. While his fastball stalled, he still limited big league hitters to sub-.200 averages on his curveball (.167) and changeup (.143). The Tommy John survivor has seen his prospect stock fall in light of his recent struggles, but if he can rediscover his fastball velocity still projects as one of the most promising young righthanders in baseball. Scouts reported issues with his mechanics and pitchability this year, but both are correctable issues that should lead to improved command once they are solved.
|Reynaldo Lopez, rhp
Lopez entered 2016 as the Nationals' second-best pitching prospect behind Giolito, but by the end of the year had surpassed him in the eyes of most evaluators. Lopez is just 6-foot, 185-pounds but possesses an electric 95-97 mph fastball that touched 100 in his major league debut in 2016, and backs it up with a low 80s curveball that grades plus, as well as an upper-80s changeup. Lopez's biggest bugaboo is his command, which wavers at times and resulted in 4.5 walks per nine innings once he got to the majors. Still, the quality of his stuff allowed him to survive in both a relief and starting role once he got to Washington, and he gives the White Sox a young, major-league ready, power righthander to pair with lefties Jose Quintana--assuming he’s not traded--and Carlos Rodon.
|Dane Dunning, rhp
The Nationals drafted Dunning 29th overall this past June and signed him for $2 million after he was a core piece of Florida's dominant pitching staff. Dunning bounced between starting and relieving in college but has the stuff to be a starter, with a low-90s fastball that gets up to 95 mph and a changeup and slider that both have a chance to be average. He demonstrated impeccable control at Florida and continued it with a 32-to-7 strikeout to walk mark over 33.2 innings in his pro debut. With strikeout stuff, plus control and a prime pedigree, Dunning has a chance to move quickly up the White Sox system and help sooner than later in Chicago.
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Adam Eaton, of
Eaton overcame doubts about his 5-foot-8 frame and 19th-round draft status to dominate at every minor league level and make his major league debut only two years after being drafted. Eaton has settled into a top-of-the-order, everyday outfielder role and was a Gold Glove finalist and MVP vote-getter in 2016. Eaton remains an above-average hitter with decent speed, but his play in center field tailed off to the point he was moved to right field for the White Sox in 2016. There, he became a Gold Glove finalist and led the majors with 18 outfield assists. Eaton will have to return to center with Bryce Harper entrenched in right in Washington, a place Eaton has not graded as even an average defender since 2014, according to Baseball-Reference.com's Defensive Runs Saved.