Possibly the most aggressive team in the National League this winter, the Washington Nationals have been in on several potential big trades. One they executed was acquiring Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox for what was turned into a really big package of minor league talent.
Meet your new center fielder, Nats fans!
In addition to filling the center field void, you're also getting someone with good speed and a nice number one or two hitter depending on where Trea Turner slots in. Come 2018, they have a new left fielder as Eaton is probably more useful to them in the corner spot which will open up once Jayson Werth’s contract is up.
Adam Eaton will take over as the new Washington Nationals center fielder in 2017.
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Only yesterday Eaton turned 28. He is coming off his third consecutive productive season, this latest resulting in a .284/.362/.428 slash line. Potentially a guy who can one day lead the league in hits, Eaton’s greatest weapon is an ability to constantly get on base. Since joining the White Sox in 2014, he has finished with OBPs of .362, .361, .362. An added bonus in the last two seasons, Eaton has increased his power from 1 home run in 538 plate appearances in 2014 to 14 in each of the last two.
Eaton can do a lot for the Nationals as soon as next year. Maybe the greatest asset of all is his incredibly affordable contract. Eaton is only owed $18.4 million over the next three seasons with very reasonable deals in 2020 and 2021 which also include cheap buyouts should things not work out.
A costly trade for the Nationals to make as they gave up a lot of young talent to get him, I do think they got the best center fielder they could if you factor in risks. Eaton’s low cost will help them add more pieces to the roster. The Nationals are going all-in this season, or so it would appear, and finding bargains to the payroll like Eaton is a great benefit. They can use the savings in free agency. However, if they don’t, then this deal may backfire on them as greater talents than Eaton are still available.
The Washington Nationals lost out on Chris Sale and are now attempting to steal Wade Davis away from the Chicago Cubs. If neither of those work, they have another choice: make a different deal with the Chicago White Sox.
Just about everyone on the White Sox is for sale including two pitchers, one of whom the Nationals are rumored to have a lot of interest in. Starting pitcher Jose Quintana appears to be a great alternative to Sale while closer David Robertson is a little more attainable than Davis is from the Kansas City Royals.
The asking price for Quintana has been quite high since trade rumors involving his name began last summer. However, now that Sale has been dealt, we get a clearer picture of what the White Sox may value Quintana at as the asking price for him will be a little less than what they got for Sale.
Will Jose Quintana or David Robertson get traded to the Washington Nationals this winter?
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In Robertson’s case, he is far less expensive in terms of prospects. The Nationals could get away with acquiring him without dealing Lucas Giolito or Victor Robles although I imagine the White Sox will first balk at them if neither’s name comes up. The downside to having so many great prospects is teams will go elsewhere if they aren’t getting the best deal possible. In any trade the Nationals make, the best deal they can offer includes Giolito or Robles.
With the way the Nationals have been pushing to get a big name pitcher added to the rotation, I do think the possibility of Quintana suiting up for Washington next year is quite high. Interest in Robertson is non-existent to the public, but it must be something they’ve at least considered given the fire sale status of the Southsiders. Landing both probably won’t happen for the Nationals as the more realistic scenario is they get themselves a new center fielder and either a starting pitcher or closer.
The team with the best chance at acquiring Andrew McCutchen or Chris Sale via trade appears to be the Washington Nationals. Getting them both, however, is a bit more of a challenge. This won't stop the defending NL East Champions from trying as the Nationals are seeing if they can indeed land themselves the two best trade pieces in baseball.
The dilemma here is whether this can be accomplished without trading Trea Turner. Seemingly an important part of this franchise's future, Turner is equally as desirable to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox in the ongoing trade talks. As a former top prospect who put up electrifying numbers last year in his rookie campaign, Turner is as great of a trade chip as any in baseball.
Can Washington somehow muster up enough talent to avoid making Turner a casualty too?
Are the Washington Nationals forced to trade Trea Turner in a deal for Andrew McCutchen or Chris Sale?
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When you have the best pitching prospect in baseball, Lucas Giolito, your chances are a whole lot better. Other well-known young arms including Joe Ross and Erick Fedde will surely get dealt too as will Victor Robles. The Nationals' farm system will take a hit in one of these trades. They're looking at total annihilation if McCutchen and Sale join the roster together in separate deals.
One way to avoid the inclusion of Turner in any deal is to also take on a bad contract. The Pirates have avoided them well so this will only work with the White Sox. The obvious guy here, James Shields, could go with Sale to Washington and save the White Sox a bunch of money in the process. If it means one less prospect the Nationals must give up, it’s worth the Nationals taking him on with the hope that he’s not cooked yet.
When it comes down to it, I think Turner is a better asset to the Nationals than either McCutchen or Sale. A sophomore with potential superstar talent shouldn’t go anywhere for veterans nearing free agency.