Over the course of the offseason, the Chicago White Sox have been actively trying to tweak different parts of their roster in an attempt to get younger. They did that with their signing of 1B Jose Abreu to a massive contract earlier in the offseason, but GM Rick Hahn wasn’t willing to let that be the only move he made.
On Wednesday, Hahn and the White Sox joined in on a three-team trade that brings outfielder Adam Eaton to the South Side. In 88 career games with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Eaton has a .254 batting average with five home runs and 27 RBI. He also has seven stolen bases and scored 59 runs in those games, playing mostly center field for Arizona.
To get Eaton, the Sox shipped pitcher Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels, who then sent outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks. To finish off the deal, Arizona sent pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs to the Angels.
The 25-year old Santiago started 23 games for the White Sox in 2013, posting a 4-9 record with a 3.56 ERA in 149 innings pitched. He struck out 137 batters in those innings, and walked 72 more.
The trade gives the White Sox a great deal of flexibility with their outfield, as well as at the top of the order, for next season. Eaton is a guy capable of batting in the lead-off position, and even though his on-base percentage isn’t great at just .314, he routinely exceeded those numbers in the Diamondbacks’ farm system, so there are still plenty of scouts that are high on his potential for the future.
Eaton will also help the outfield out quite a bit with his glove, posting a .965 fielding percentage with only four errors on the season in 2013. He has very good range thanks to his speed and ability to read the ball off the bat, and after patrolling some of the big outfields in the NL West like Chase Field and Petco Park, he should be able to fit into the AL Central in that area quite nicely.
The impact Eaton’s presence on the South Side will have on the team’s other outfielders remains to be seen. Avisail Garcia will most like stay in the lineup in right field, and Dayan Viciedo could potentially remain in left, although there is some talk that he could spend some time in the designated hitter spot and allow Alejandro De Aza to play left for the Sox. The more likely scenario would be that De Aza would turn into a fourth outfielder/pinch runner for the White Sox, with Eaton getting the bulk of the starts in center field.
As for losing Santiago in the trade, it is a bit of a blow to a starting staff that has had issues keeping guys like Gavin Floyd and John Danks healthy, but it isn’t a devastating blow. His strikeout numbers are gaudy, but his WHIP of 1.40 trailed well behind most of the other Sox starters (with the exception of Dylan Axelrod, who posted a heinous 1.66 WHIP in 30 appearances last season), and command issues could render him as more of a third or fourth starter than anything else.
According to various reports, Hahn and manager Robin Ventura both have a vision for the White Sox getting younger as the offseason wears on, and this is just one more move that hammers home that point.