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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: NATS LEAVE HEADS SCRATCHING AND MOUTHS AGAPE OVER ADAM EATON TRADE

Wow....I mean.....WOW.  After waffling over giving up top prospects for ace starter Chris Sale and then former MVP outfielder Andrew McCutchen, the Washington Nationals felt that solid but unspectacular Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton was worth surrendering top tier (and top five overall) pitching prospect Lucas Giolito AND fellow impressive pitching prospect Reynaldo Lopez.  Say what?  As our own Michael Wong (who is live at the Winter Meetings) reported, mouth were left agape at the deal given what the Nats gave up.  As far as Eaton is concerned, again he is a nice player but certainly no one's definition of a star.  Eaton is a guy who helps in all five standard ROTO categories but at the same time he doesn't excel in any of them either.  2016 was a typical Eaton year as he batted .284 with 14 home runs and 14 stolen bases for the White Sox.  Batting mostly out of the leadoff spot, Eaton scored 91 runs and collected 53 RBI.  Very good numbers indeed but that puts Eaton more in low-end OF 2 of high-end OF 3 status.

As far as Giolito and Lopez were concerned, both guys were the cream of the crop in the Washington farm system in terms of pitching.  Giolito was considered to be almost a sure thing as his vast four-pitch arsenal screamed future ace.  He was dominant both at Double-A (3.17 ERA/9.13 K/9) and at Triple-A (2.17 ERA/9.64 K/9) last season.  Of course the former 2012 first round pick (16th overall) struggled during his first foray into the major last season, showing uncharacteristically poor control (5.06 BB/9) and a K/9 rate that sank way down to 4.64.  Of course the small sample size was in play as Giolito only pitched 21.1 innings and his ceiling is so vast that we can give him a clear mulligan on this.  Giolito is still a very high quality arm who now looks like a very good sleeper candidate for 2017 fantasy baseball given the better chance to stick in the White Sox rotation than if he were trying to get into the stacked Nationals stable of arms.  

In terms of Lopez, the 22-year-old was terrific himself in 2016 for the Washington farm systems; logging a 3.18 ERA and 11.79 K/9 and then followed that up with a 3.27 ERA and 7.09 K/9 at Triple-A.  Like with Giolito, Lopez struggled badly with the Nats in his 44 innings (4.91 ERA/8.59 K/9) but he does possess a power arm that can yield strikeouts.  While Lopez doesn't carry much fantasy baseball value at least initially for 2017, he is still a guy worth monitoring early on if he sticks with his new team.  


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