The Winter Meetings concluded in Maryland yesterday and the Hot Stove is a burnin’. Here is my take on the three teams that improved the most and those that made some questionable moves.
Chicago White Sox
Having only finished above .500 twice since the 2008 season, the time had come for a full rebuild on the South Side. By dealing their ace, Chris Sale, the Sox received top-prospect Yoan Moncada (2b/3b/maybe SS) and Mark Kopech (RHP). Many know about the talents of Moncada, but Kopech is also a top-tier prospect. In 134.2 innings on a Minor League mound, Kopech has a sparkling 2.61 ERA to go along with 172 k’s and 69 bb’s. While it must have been difficult to let Sale go, haven’t we all been thinking “when is that scrawny little arm going to fall off of that tall bag of bones?” Great move Chicago.
To add to this, the White Sox also traded the diminutive Adam Eaton to the Nationals for top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito (RHP) and Reynaldo Lopez (RHP). Both are considered by Baseball America to be top-100 prospects and each saw time in the Bigs last season. Adam Eaton, who had a top-15 WAR last season at 6.2, has never appeared in an All-Star Game or hit better than .300 in a season will head to D.C. and take over center field. While he is under team control under a great contract (a little under $30 million due through 2021), he reminds me of a Jayson Werth Lite. Not as strong, not as fast, not quite as hairy, not as good.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox got their guy in Chris Sale. While they paid a high price, they acquired an ace who is under team control at a reasonable price for the next three seasons. With the emergence of Rick Porcello, the Sox now have the depth in their rotation to make a run deep into October (assuming David Price never, ever pitches in the playoffs. Just kidding, kind of…)
San Francisco Giants
I get it. The money going to closers is insane. Mark Melancon, who absolutely sucked in Boston (6.20 ERA in 2007), is now the big money closer for the Giants, but he is exactly what they need. The Giants blew a league leading 30 saves last season and still managed to win the Wild Card and advance to the NLDS. With Melancon, a strong rotation that now features a steady Matt Moore and their usual collection of pesky position players, the Giants can expect to have a strong team in 2017 who can chase down LA.
Also under consideration: Rockies and Yankees.
The Nats were outbid on Chris Sale, who would have given them one of the most devastating starting rotations in all of baseball (Scherzer-Sale-Strasburg) and a chance at some great alliteration-based marketing. Regardless, they went right back to the same team (the White Sox) who had spurned them on Sale and offered a similar package for a guy who has never made an All-Star team and is named after the most mediocre pitcher in baseball history (the other Adam Eaton). Nats fans can’t be happy, thinking that Adam Eaton could be the outfielder they see for years to come as rumors start to swirl that Harper won’t be with the Nats past 2018, if not sooner…
Los Angeles Dodgers
So the Dodgers gave a ton of money (3 years/$48mil) to Rich Hill, a 37 year old who has never in his career thrown over 200 innings. Don’t they already have an aging lefty who can’t stay healthy? Yes, his name is Scott Kazmir. The Dodgers are spinning their tires and going nowhere as the Giants and Rockies improve.
Yes, the Nationals are listed in the “3 Down” category twice. I almost went with the Orioles (who haven’t done squadink while the Red Sox and Yankees improve) but I just can’t shake this trade. Baseball Reference (the most glorious website known to man) has a section named “similarity scores” that compares a player’s statistics to those of current and former players. Mike Trout is similar through age 24 to Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey and Hank Aaron. Fair enough. You want to know who Adam Eaton is compared to? DAVID DEJESUS. The Nats just traded their top pitching prospect (who is considered to be a future front line starter) for David freakin’ DeJesus. BEST CASE, he turns into Johnny Damon. But even then, the Nats traded far too much for a player of Eaton’s caliber.
Also under consideration: Orioles
**Photo credit of Chris Sale to Keith Allison** Check him out on flickr.