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Adam Eaton Rumors
White Sox GM Rick Hahn announced a five-year, $23.5MM extension with center fielder Adam Eaton today on CSN Chicago. The deal includes two club options, which give the team risk-free control over Eaton for 2020 and 2021. Eaton is a client of Diamond Sports Management.
Here’s how the deal breaks out for the 26-year-old, who entered the spring with just over two years of service time and would have been playing for his first of three arbitration deals. Eaton receives $850K for the 2015 campaign, followed by $2.75MM, $4MM, and $6MM salaries for what would have been his arbitration seasons and $8.4MM for his first season of free agent eligibility. The club options are valued at $9.5MM and $10.5MM, respectively, and either can instead be bought out for $1.5MM. The last club option can increase to $12MM if Eaton finishes second or third in MVP balloting any season from 2015 through 2020, and $13MM if he wins the MVP any of those years.
So, what did the White Sox get for their investment? Last year, in his first full run through the bigs, Eaton slashed .300/.362/.401 and swiped 15 bases. While he has no power to speak of, Eaton’s cumulative, park-adjusted work at the plate checked in at about 15% above league average. He draws walks at about a league-average rate while striking out a good bit less than the mean. Eaton’s .359 BABIP is probably not quite sustainable, but Eaton’s speed makes him a candidate to maintain a rather high average on balls in play; indeed, he consistently topped that level as a minor leaguer.
That kind of output will play at most positions, but is especially valuable in an up-the-middle defender. How one views this deal largely swings on how one values Eaton’s defense. He was not considered a sure thing in center as a prospect, but had at least proven he can handle the position heading into last year and unquestionably has the speed required.
The question is: with one full season in the books, which rating system (if any) do you believe? In the estimation of Ultimate Zone Rating (-3.3 last year), Eaton is slightly below average at the position; thus, he checked in at 2.7 fWAR. But by measure of Defensive Runs Saved (12 runs above average), Eaton is an outstanding defender and was worth a staggering 5.2 rWAR last year.
If we split the difference and peg Eaton as an average to slightly above-average performer in center, and assume that he can continue to hit at an average or slightly better rate and provide value on the bases, then you have the makings of a solid 2.5 to 3.5 win player for the foreseeable future. That makes his new contract look rather appealing.
The closest comp for the Eaton deal is probably the 2012 extension between the Padres and Cameron Maybin. That contract went for five years and $25MM, with the team picking up just one option year. Maybin was obviously a high-variance player with bigger counting stats, so San Diego had to pay for his upside. Another obvious comparison point was just set: the $49.57MM Christian Yelich deal with the Marlins, which more than doubles the promise made to Eaton. While Yelich has more power upside, he plays in the corner. And though Yelich is a good bit younger (just 23), he also was one year further away from arbitration and free agency.
Of course, there are other elements weighing down Eaton’s price here. For one, his skillset is unlikely to translate into huge arbitration earnings And then there’s the fact that Eaton has dealt with a series of injury issues in recent seasons. Last year, it oblique and hamstring strains led to DL stints. In 2013, Eaton went down to a UCL sprain in his left elbow. It remains to be seen whether Eaton is uniquely injury prone or has just encountered some bad luck, but that track record certainly increased the deal’s logic from his perspective.
All told, the White Sox are undoubtedly pleased with how things have turned out with Eaton. Chicago was able to add him in exchange for lefty Hector Santiago, serving to facilitate the late 2013 Mark Trumbo deal.
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune first tweeted the news. Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweeted the option details. Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweeted the annual breakdown, while CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweeted details about Eaton’s last option season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Today’s biggest transactional news came out of Chicago, as the White Sox continued to set the stage for the future by extending outfielder Adam Eaton. The 26-year-old expressed plenty of excitement for the new deal, though it sounds as if he did not quite enjoy the process that it took to reach agreement, as Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets. “I didn’t sleep much,” said Eaton. “Very stressful. I don’t know how the other side felt. It was long.”
Let’s have a look at a few more notes from the central divisions:
- Former Brewers closer Jim Henderson was reassigned to minor league camp today as he continues to show slow progress in his return from shoulder surgery, as MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports. Henderson has been throwing his fastball at about five to ten miles per hour below his peak mid-to-upper-90s offering from recent seasons.
- Fellow righty Corey Knebel has also been shipped to the minor league side of camp by the Brewers, writes McCalvy, leaving Chris Perez, Tyler Thornburg, and Rob Wooten to battle over the final pen role. Perez is in camp on a minor league deal and has Article XX(B) protection, meaning that the team will either need to put him on the active roster, pay him a $100K bonus in the minors (and give him a June 1 opt-out date), or release him. The other two players still have options.
- Cubs skipper Joe Maddon says he is talking with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein about a creative means to fit both Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood on the 25-man roster, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat tweets. Jackson is in the midst of a substantial free agent contract, while Wood is out of options. A transaction would be necessary should either player not make the club out of camp.
Mike Hegan, a longtime former player and broadcaster, passed away on Wednesday at age 71. Hegan posted a .712 OPS in 2452 PA over 12 seasons with the Yankees, Brewers and Athletics from 1964-77, picking up a spot on the 1969 AL All-Star team as a Seattle Pilot (before the franchise moved to Milwaukee) and earning a World Series ring with the A's in 1972. After retirement, Hegan moved to the broadcast booth and spent 12 seasons as a Brewers TV broadcaster before moving to his hometown of Cleveland in 1989 and spending 23 seasons calling Indians games on both TV and radio. The MLBTR staff sends our condolences to Hegan's family and friends.
Here's the latest from around the majors…
- Masahiro Tanaka's posting period opened this morning and the Yankees have already contacted Tanaka's agent Casey Close, Newsday's Marc Carig reports. Earlier today on MLBTR, we collected more Tanaka-related news, and I opined that Tanaka's market may be larger than expected.
- The Mariners will also be "a factor" for Tanaka, a baseball official tells Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News. “They have a following in Japan. They enjoyed what they had when Ichiro (Suzuki) was on the team. They want the chance for moves like getting [Robinson] Cano to pay off. And they envision [Felix] Hernandez paired with Tanaka at the top of the rotation," the official said.
- The White Sox are confident that the torn left UCL that sidelined Adam Eaton for half of the 2013 season is no longer a problem, GM Rick Hahn told CSN Chicago's Dan Hayes. “The elbow injury wasn't something we felt, and our medical people felt, would be a long‑term issue….We certainly paid attention to what he looked like coming back from that injury, but it was the kind of thing that shouldn't be a lingering issue," Hahn said. Hayes also talks to Eaton himself about his recovery from the injury. Chicago acquired Eaton as part of the three-team trade with the D'Backs and Angels that sent Mark Trumbo to Arizona and Tyler Skaggs/Hector Santiago to L.A.
- The Cardinals' low-profile additions of Peter Bourjos and Mark Ellis could pay big dividends and make the team better in 2014, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer opines.
- The Reds' window for making a big trade "may be closing," MLB.com's Mark Sheldon writes. The team should make a few moves in January, however, and could add a free agent bat if a discount price can be found.
- Former Mariners GM Bill Bavasi contacted SB Nation's Rob Neyer about Bavasi's trade of Shin-Soo Choo to the Indians in 2006. While Bavasi said he was under pressure from Seattle's upper management to improve the club, he doesn't excuse himself for moves that backfired, saying "the Choo and [Asdrubal] Cabrera trades were a product of my own stupidity and good work by the Indians."
- Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith lists three potential suitors for 10 of the top remaining free agents.
- Finally, it was on this day in 1919 that arguably the most important trade in baseball history was agreed upon — Red Sox owner Harry Frazee's deal to sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees. CBS Sports' Dayn Perry has some of the history behind the infamous sale, and MLB FanCave tweeted a picture of the actual transfer contract.
The biggest trade from this week's Winter Meetings in Orlando is now complete. The Diamondbacks officially announced that they have acquired Mark Trumbo and minor league right-hander A.J. Schugel from the Angels and minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs from the White Sox in a three-team deal. Arizona will send center fielder Adam Eaton to the White Sox and left-hander Tyler Skaggs to the Angels. The White Sox will also send left-hander Hector Santiago to the Angels.
The Diamondbacks were set on acquiring either Trumbo or Shin-Soo Choo at the Winter Meetings, according to earlier reports. Trumbo (pictured) will slot into the outfield for the D-Backs, which isn't a perfect fit for Arizona given his defensive shortcomings there. Arizona will be looking for Trumbo's power to outweigh his shaky defense; he's belted 66 home runs over the past two seasons, posting a .250/.305/.471 batting line.
In 992 innings as an outfielder throughout his career, Trumbo has a -7.0 UZR/150. While his walk rate climbed to a career-best eight percent in 2013, that's still below the league average, and it came along with a career-worst 27.1 percent strikeout rate. Still, he should provide a great deal of power to a D-Backs outfield that finished last in the Majors in home runs in 2013. In fact, Trumbo's mark of 34 homers alone ties the collective mark posted by Arizona outfielders last season. Trumbo projects to earn $4.7MM via arbitration this offseason and can be controlled through the 2016 campain.
The White Sox have stated a desire to get younger and to add left-handed bats to their lineup, and the acquisition of Eaton will do just that. Formerly one of baseball's top prospects, the 25-year-old Eaton missed more than half of the 2013 season after opening the year on the DL with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his left (throwing) elbow.
In 380 career MLB plate apparances, Eaton is a .254/.332/.373 hitter with five homers and seven stolen bases. He's batted .365/.441/.522 with eight homers and 38 steals in 602 career plate appearances at the Triple-A level. Prior to the 2013 season, Baseball America ranked Eaton as Arizona's No. 4 prospect, noting that he'd made enough defensive strides to convince scouts that he is an everyday big league center fielder with double-digit home run pop, plus speed and a strong, accurate throwing arm. Should he pan out, Eaton could provide the White Sox with their center fielder of the future; he's controllable through the 2018 season.
The Angels have been in the market for young, controllable pitchers, and this trade allows them to fill out their rotation with a pair of promising young left-handers. This is the second time that GM Jerry Dipoto has acquired Skaggs. Dipoto acquired Skaggs for the D-Backs from the Angels in a trade for Dan Haren when he was Arizona's interim GM.
Skaggs appeared in the Top 15 of BA's Top 100 list prior to the 2012 and 2013 seasons but has struggled in his brief big league experience to date. Still just 22, he has a 5.43 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 40 percent ground-ball rate in 68 Major League innings. He has a 4.02 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 156 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level — all of which have come with him being one of the league's youngest pitchers. Skaggs won't be eligible for arbitration until at least 2016 and can be controlled through the 2019 campaign if he's in the Majors from here on out.
Santiago, who turns 26 next week, has a career 3.41 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 37.5 percent ground-ball rate in 224 2/3 big league innings. He's not arbitration eligible until next winter and can be controlled through the 2017 campaign. An extreme fly-ball pitcher, Santiago should enjoy Mike Trout playing behind him in center field.
Schugel dealt with blisters early in the season and saw a foot injury cut his season short in July after he posted a 7.05 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 89 1/3 innings at Triple-A Salt Lake. However, he posted a 2.89 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 140 innings at Double-A when he was healthy in 2012.
Baseball America ranked Schugel 12th among Angels prospects prior to 2013, noting that a strong fastball/changeup combo should allow him to become a back-of-the-rotation starter despite a questionable breaking pitch. BA also noted that Schugel is an excellent athlete that fields his position well.
Jacobs, 23, came to the White Sox from the Red Sox in the Matt Thornton deal in July. The outfielder hit .244/.320/.407 for three teams at Class-A Advanced and Double-A in 2013. He was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, as was Schugel, which is why the pair had to technically be included as players to be named later.
ESPN's Keith Law was the first to report the three-team framework (on Twitter), and MLB.com's Steve Gilbert added that the D-Backs would receive two prospects as well (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweeted that the trade was agreed to (Twitter links). Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona tweeted that the D-Backs would receive Schugel from the Angels, and John Gambadoro of Sports 620 KTAR in Phoenix was first to suggest that Jacobs would be the PTBNL coming from Chicago.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
12:22pm: The deal is "getting pretty close," a source tells MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link). Though he was discussed in a separate trade with the White Sox and Angels, Kendrick is not part of this deal, Gonzalez adds.
12:10pm: USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that the three teams are optimistic about their chances of finalizing the trade (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic agrees with Gilbert's report from below, noting that Arizona would receive one prospect from the Angels and one from the Sox (also on Twitter).
11:38am: MLB.com's Steve Gilbert tweets that Arizona would receive a pair of good prospects in addition to Trumbo.
11:27am: Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (via Twitter) hears that the talks are definitely ongoing but are still in the preliminary phases. The three sides are making some progress but a deal isn't close at this time, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register agrees (on Twitter).
11:02am: The Angels tried to land Santiago from the White Sox in talks for Howie Kendrick, tweets Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, but they're now focused on getting him as part of this three-team deal.
10:50am: ESPN's Keith Law reports (via Twitter) that the Mark Trumbo talks between the Diamondbacks and Angels have expanded to include the White Sox, with a potential framework sending Adam Eaton to Chicago and Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs to the Angels.
Parting with Skaggs and Eaton would be a steep price to pay in order to play Trumbo out of position at a corner outfield spot, but reports have indicated that the D-Backs are "determined" to leave Orlando with either Trumbo or Shin-Soo Choo in tow, and the financial commitment required to add Choo would be significant. Adding Skaggs and Santiago would be a tremendous win for Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, who has been in the market for controllable young starters for months.
Seven years ago today, the Diamondbacks came to terms with Justin Upton, the first overall selection in the 2005 amateur draft, on a five-year, $6.1MM contract. The deal marked the largest signing bonus given in a minor league contract for a drafted player, who was not a free agent. Today, Upton is the prime trade target of the offseason. Just within the last 24 hours, we learned there is no match with the Padres, the Braves haven't engaged in Upton talks since before Christmas, and speculation that a deal will happen as soon as Arizona is offered the right mix of players. In non-Upton news involving the Diamondbacks and the rest of the Senior Circuit:
- If the Diamondbacks don't move one of their outfielders, look for Adam Eaton to open the season at Triple-A, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. "That's not in a perfect world what we want to have happen," GM Kevin Towers told Gilbert. "But we're not going to move an outfielder in a lousy deal just to move an outfielder."
- Within the same piece, Towers says discussions have been held with the Diamondbacks' six arbitration eligible players and he expects those negotiations to go down to the wire. You can follow the Diamondbacks' arbitration cases and those of MLB's other 29 teams with MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker.
- Acknowledging it sounds crazy and doesn't really think it's going to happen, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post urges the Nationals to sign free agent closer Rafael Soriano. Kilgore sees agent Scott Boras convincing owner Ted Lerner the franchise has a finite window of competing for titles and Soriano is the final, missing piece.
- Earlier today, ESPN.com's Buster Olney suggested the Giants should look into signing Buster Posey to a Joey Votto-type extension. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, however, would be surprised by such a deal because the Giants have been burned by long-term contracts given to Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand. Schulman tweeted a good starting point in Posey talks would be the $53.5MM given to Tim Lincecum during his four-years of arbitration eligibility.
- The Marlins are sifting through the batch of unsigned free agent relievers and are able to sign an inexpensive arm or two with the salary relief leftover from trading Yunel Escobar, according to the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer.
- Rick VandenHurk, released yesterday by the Pirates, will sign with the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization, according to Naver, a Korean news service, confirming a report first tweeted by Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net.
It was on this day 40 years ago that the baseball world lost one of its greatest stars. Following a massive earthquake that devastated the country of Nicaragua, Roberto Clemente helped organize a relief effort for victims of the disaster and accompanied one of the aid packages on its flight on New Year's Eve 1972 to ensure that the goods reached the proper hands. Tragically, Clemente's flight crashed off the shore of Puerto Rico, costing the Pirates superstar his life at the age of 38. Clemente was posthumously honored with the Presidential Citizens Medal and a Congressional Gold Medal by then-president Richard Nixon and the U.S. Congress, and given immediate entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame, as the BBWAA waived its usual five-year waiting period.
Here are some news items as we pay tribute to Clemente and look ahead to 2013…
- Counting arbitration raises and the $13MM they have tentatively agreed to pay Mike Napoli, the Red Sox 2013 payroll will almost exactly match the club's 2012 payroll, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.
- Speaking of arb raises, you can follow all of the arbitration cases and settlements on MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker, which has now been updated with the salaries of players who have already come to agreements.
- The Indians have "liked" Jason Kubel dating back to his days with the Twins, so Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer figures the Tribe probably discussed Kubel in their previous negotiations with the Diamondbacks this winter. Hoynes doesn't think the Indians should deal Asdrubal Cabrera for Kubel (a reader's suggestion) but he agrees that Cleveland could use Kubel's power.
- Also from Hoynes' reader mail piece, he thinks the Indians will take care of other business before considering re-signing Travis Hafner, and that Chris Perez will return in 2013 unless the Tribe gets "a big return" in a trade for the closer.
- Kubel isn't a fit for the Mets and the team doesn't have the prospect depth to get Justin Upton, but Michael Baron of Metsblog.com wonders if the Mets could make a play for another Diamondbacks outfielder in Adam Eaton. While I agree that Eaton would be a good fit for the Amazins, it would take a lot to convince Arizona to part such a talented, controllable player.
- Peter Moylan appears to have little chance of returning to the Braves, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as GM Frank Wren said the team's bullpen was set after trading for Jordan Walden. Moylan has a career 2.59 ERA over seven seasons with Atlanta but has appeared in just 21 games over the last two seasons due to a lower back injury and rotator cuff surgery. The right-hander was non-tendered by the Braves in October.
- FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi lists the Padres, Orioles, Yankees and seven other teams who still have significant roster holes to fill in January. In a seperate list, Morosi names his top 10 baseball newsmakers of the past year.
The chances of Justin Upton, Chris Young, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton returning to the Diamondbacks’ outfield in 2013 seem slim, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. One or more of those players will likely be moved in trades. Here are the details on Arizona’s offseason plans…
- Rival executives believe the Diamondbacks will trade Young this offseason. Some say they expected Arizona to let Young go on waivers if he had been claimed last month. The center fielder will earn $8.5MM in 2013 and his contract includes a 2014 option with a $1.5MM buyout.
- Some rival executives sense that GM Kevin Towers is less likely to trade Upton this winter than he has been in the past. There’s no guarantee teams will meet Arizona’s asking price for Upton and there’s concern that the right fielder would blossom as a hitter if he’s traded elsewhere.
- Despite the Diamondbacks’ impressive core of young pitching, Towers would like to add a veteran starting pitcher this offseason, Olney reports.
Let's hope into the wayback machine and look at a few notable moves that took place on past 11/27s…
- The Phillies agreed to terms with Adam Eaton to a three-year, $24.5MM contract on this date in 2006. Since the Phils went on to win the World Series in 2008, this signing was totally worth it, right? Believers in the butterfly effect might agree, but to most, Eaton was a huge bust for Philadelphia. The right-hander posted a 6.10 ERA in 51 appearances (49 of them starts) and the Phillies outright released Eaton before the 2009 season and ate the remaining $8.75MM on his contract.
- The Yankees made a much more valuable signing on November 27, 2006, inking Mike Mussina to a two-year, $22MM deal. The Moose struggled in 2007 but bounced back in a major way in 2008 — a 3.37 ERA, 4.84 K/BB ratio and tied for the league lead with 34 starts. Mussina turned 40 in December 2008 and decided to retire, thus missing out on New York's World Series title the next season.
- The Dodgers took a chance on the oft-injured Eric Davis when they acquired the Reds star (and pitcher Kip Gross) from Cincinnati on this date in 1991 in exchange for Tim Belcher and John Wetteland. Davis posted just a .677 OPS in 730 plate appearances with L.A. before being traded to Detroit on August 31, 1993. Davis didn't regain his old form until 1996-98, when he delivered three solid seasons with the Reds and Orioles. The key figure in this trade ended up being Wetteland, but the Reds flipped him to Montreal just two weeks after acquiring him from Los Angeles. Wetteland developed into a star closer for the Expos, Yankees and Rangers, and was named MVP of the 1996 World Series.
- Speaking of Yankee postseason stars, the Bronx Bombers picked up third baseman Graig Nettles on this day in 1972. Nettles and catcher Jerry Moses were acquired from the Indians for an unremarkable four-player package. The defensively-stellar Nettles made five All-Star appearances in his 11 seasons as a Yankee, racking up 1396 hits and almost as many witty quotes to sportswriters.
- Finally, one more New York team made an important addition on this date in 1967. The Mets acquired manager Gil Hodges from the Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers) in exchange for pitcher Bill Denehy and $100K. Denehy only pitched in 34 more games in the majors, while Hodges went on to lead the Mets to their Amazin' upset win in the 1969 World Series. The former Dodger great managed the Mets for two more seasons before his untimely death of a heart attack at age 47.
There aren't many options for teams looking to sign a dependable starter, but the free agent market isn't completely barren yet. Of all the free agents remaining, only three pitchers logged more than 100 innings last year. Here's the latest on all eight starters to pitch as many as 40 innings last year (or what Roy Halladay logs in an average month):
- Braden Looper, 194.2 IP – The Dodgers are interested on a minor league deal and the D'Backs aren't likely to pursue him, despite Brandon Webb's questionable status for Opening Day.
- Jarrod Washburn, 176 IP – The Twins and Mariners seemed to lead the way for Washburn early on, but the Scott Boras client said yesterday that he doesn't expect to return to Seattle. The D'Backs don't appear likely to pursue Washburn and we haven't seen the Orioles connected to him for a month.
- Mike Hampton, 112 IP - He will miss the 2010 season after undergoing rotator cuff surgery.
- John Smoltz, 78 IP – Smoltz hasn't ruled out the Braves, but the Cardinals don't appear to have the money to sign him and the Nationals haven't spoken to him recently. Jon Heyman of SI.com says Smoltz is content to wait for the right deal, which may mean a mid-season signing.
- Bartolo Colon, 62.1 IP - The former Cy Young Award winner wants to pitch, but wasn't publicly linked to any teams this winter.
- Sidney Ponson, 58.2 IP - There has been no reported interest in Ponson this winter.
- Adam Eaton, 49 IP - There has not been interest in Eaton, either.
- Pedro Martinez 44.2 IP – The Phillies have been linked to Pedro throughout the offseason. Pedro may wait to sign in-season, as he did last year.