The White Sox entered this week’s Winter Meetings with arguably the worst farm system in baseball. They might leave it with one of the best.
One day after acquiring Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade, the ChiSox pull off another massive deal with the team that finished runner-up for Sale in the Nationals. They shipped Adam Eaton to Washington and got back Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.
That’s two top-five prospects (Moncada and Giolito) and a couple top-50 prospects (Kopech and Lopez) that the White Sox have pulled in the last 24 hours, per MLB.com. MLB.com also has Basabe and Dunning ranked in Chicago’s new top-10 now, as well.
The White Sox surely aren’t done stockpiling young talent, either. They are obviously in full rebuild mode and have remaining trade assets such as Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera and Nate Jones.
One or both of Giolito and Lopez could crack the Opening Day rotation -- especially if Quintana is dealt – give the White Sox’ lack of depth. They each could probably use a little more seasoning, though, and Chicago obviously doesn’t plan to compete in 2017 so they might wind up bringing in a veteran starter or two.
As for the Nationals, they lost out on Sale and failed to land Andrew McCutchen, but they’ve gotten a very nice player in Eaton. While Eaton was better defensively as a right fielder last season, the Nats plan to play him in center in 2017 and keep Bryce Harper in right. He’ll also likely be their leadoff hitter, where he can put his .362 on-base percentage over the last three seasons to good use.
Not only was Eaton’s package of skills as a player very attractive, the Nationals also loved that he was under team contract through 2021 for just $38.4 million. He could eventually find himself in a corner outfield spot with Jayson Werth’s contract up after 2017 and Harper’s up after 2018. Top prospect Victor Robles should be ready for center field in a year or two.
The acquisition of Eaton also means Trea Turner will move to his more natural position of shortstop, bumping Danny Espinosa to the bench or possibly to another roster in a trade. Turner will already enter 2017 with eligibility at both second base and the outfield, and he’ll earn shortstop eligibility in short order. As if there wasn’t already enough of a reason to love him from a fantasy perspective.
Chapman Returns to Bronx
Mark Melancon set a record for a reliever contract earlier this week when he signed a five-year, $62 million pact with the Giants. That record didn’t last long.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal first reported late Wednesday that the Yankees have brought back Aroldis Chapman on a five-year, $86 million deal. The deal includes an opt-out after the third year of the contract, a full no-trade clause for the first three years and a partial no-trade clause for the final two years. ESPN’s Marly Rivera says the partial no-trade clause stipulates that Chapman cannot be dealt to a team located in California.
The Yankees, of course, traded Chapman to the Cubs at the deadline, picking up a package of prospects headlined by Gleyber Torres. Both sides said at the time that they’d love a reunion after the season, and it’s happened. Chapman will push Dellin Betances back to a setup role.
The Marlins finished runner-up in the Chapman sweepstakes, but it appears they could still get the marquee closer they desire. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan has reported that Miami has made Kenley Jansen a five-year offer worth over $80 million. They would also have to surrender the No. 13 overall pick to sign Jansen.
The Dodgers want to bring Jansen back, but whether they’re willing to pony up remains to be seen. The Nationals also are looking for a ninth-inning man, but it’s unclear if they’d have interest in Jansen at that price. For now, it appears the Marlins are in the driver’s seat.
Desmond in Denver
The Rockies haven’t hid the fact that they entered the offseason with a question mark at first base, but they got their answer Wednesday in the form of… Ian Desmond?
Yes, the same Ian Desmond who spent the first seven years of his career as a shortstop before moving to the outfield last season is now back on the move to a position he’s never played in his life. The Rockies did say that Desmond – who was given a five-year, $70 million contract -- will play some in the outfield, and we can’t rule out him potentially getting time at shortstop should something happen to Trevor Story. For now, though, it looks like the bulk of his starts will come at first base.
That’s assuming the Rockies don’t make another move or two with their lineup.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has reported that the Rockies remain interested in Mark Trumbo even after signing Desmond. The idea there is that Trumbo would take over at first base, Desmond would move to the outfield and the club would trade either Carlos Gonzalez or Charlie Blackmon. Colorado already has to forfeit the No. 11 overall pick to sign Desmond and they’d have to surrender a lower selection to sign Trumbo. Trumbo is reportedly seeking an $80 million deal.
You could certainly argue that Desmond (and potentially Trumbo) wasn’t the wisest investment. He has a career .316 OBP and is known as a very streaky hitter, having batted .322/.375/.524 in the first half last season and .237/.283/.347 after the break. We’ve also seen that he has a low floor, which he displayed in 2015 when he hit an ugly .233/.290/.384.
However, Desmond is coming off a very good season overall that saw him bat .285/.335/.446 with 22 homers, 86 RBI and 21 stolen bases. It’s obviously a plum spot to land for fantasy purposes. Desmond will lose shortstop eligibility going into 2017, but he was a top-40 fantasy option in 2016 and he’s a possibility to be a top-100 guy again in his new digs.
Cubs Swap Soler for Davis
The Cubs are going to lose free agent closer Aroldis Chapman this offseason, but they’ve managed to replace him with another All-Star ninth-inning man.
On Wednesday the Cubs completed a trade that sent Jorge Soler to the Royals in exchange for Wade Davis. Davis has been absurdly dominant in his three seasons as a full-time reliever in Kansas City, putting up a 1.18 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 234/59 K/BB ratio over 182 2/3 innings. He was even more of a shutdown reliever in the Royals’ two postseason runs with a 0.38 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 38/5 K/BB ratio across 25 frames.
There are a couple reasons why Davis “only” required Soler in a trade. One is that he’ll be a free agent after the 2017 season. Another is that the closer was sent to the disabled list on two occasions in 2016 with a flexor tendon strain. Now, it’s possible the issue won’t crop up again. Pitchers have overcome the injury before and Davis did return from it in September last year in good fashion (2.79 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 15/1 K/BB ratio over 9 2/3 innings). But, it’s also something that’s often a precursor to a more serious injury like a torn ulnar collateral ligament. If he does stay healthy, Davis will no doubt be excellent for the Cubs and an elite fantasy closer.
In Soler, the Royals are getting a guy with loads of ability but who has disappointed to this point. The Cuban defector has batted .258/.328/.434 over his first 765 big league plate appearances, hitting 27 homers while driving in 98 runs. Soler has also had trouble staying healthy the last two seasons, making three lengthy trips to the disabled list.
Soler did play well in the second half last season after coming back from a hamstring injury, batting .258/.348/.515 with seven longballs and 18 RBI over 112 plate appearances. He’s also going to turn just 25 in February and has some of the best raw power in the game. Soler will need to cut down on his strikeouts and improve his consistency, but he’ll get regular at-bats in right field and the designated hitter spot in Kansas City and could pay off as a late-round fantasy selection in the spring.
Winter Meetings Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports has reported that the Pirates are expected to hang on to Andrew McCutchen after being unable to work out a trade with the Nationals. He adds that they will consider moving McCutchen to a corner outfield spot … Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan has reported that Edwin Encarnacion is expected to wait a while to sign a contract after not getting any offers better than three years and $60 million … Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times has reported that the Dodgers are "kicking the proverbial tires" on Ian Kinsler and Brian Dozier. The Dodgers’ main concern at this point, however, appears to be re-signing Jansen and Justin Turner. They’ve also had trade talks for Todd Frazier as a potential alternative to Turner, according to Heyman … MLB Network’s Jon Morosi has reported that the Rockies have interest in Marcus Stroman but are unwilling to trade him to the Blue Jays straight up for Charlie Blackmon … The Yankees have expressed interest in Sergio Romo, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle … The Marlins signed A.J. Ellis to a one-year, $2.5 million contract … Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News has reported that Tyson Ross' asking price is in the $9-11 million range … T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com has reported that the Rangers met with the Mets on Wednesday, presumably to discuss Jay Bruce … Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday that he's planning to have Huston Street, Cam Bedrosian, and Andrew Bailey compete for the closer job in spring training … Morosi has reported that the Nationals have talked with the Rays about a potential Alex Colome trade … Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has reported that the Diamondbacks are most open to discussing Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin in trade talks … Heyman has reported that the Royals "haven't felt overwhelmed by offers" for outfielder Jarrod Dyson. The A’s, Cardinals and Orioles are some clubs known to have had trade discussions about Dyson … The Marlins signed Jeff Locke to a one-year, $3 million contract … The Mariners acquired Chris Heston from the Giants in exchange for a player to be named later. Seattle designated Richie Shaffer for assignment in a corresponding move …