My top 30 pitching prospects aren’t even published, and already I’m having to edit them.
Why? The No. 1 player, Lucas Giolito, was dealt — among others, if you can believe it — for Adam Eaton, that transcendent bearded wonder of a player whose once-in-a-generation talent has too long gone overlooked because of the White Sox’s inability to provide him with adequate help.
You know, guys like Chris Sale.
I kid, of course, though these days, that’s the kind of return you’d expect for a prospect of Giolito’s caliber. Which perhaps says less about Eaton than Giolito himself. Perhaps the Nationals would disagree with my assessment that he’s still the game’s top pitching prospect.
I’m still waiting for Jose Quintana’s name to show up in this Adam Eaton trade. Someone had to have made a mistake, right?
— Scott White (@CBSScottWhite) December 7, 2016
Well, too bad. He’s staying there. It’s true he didn’t have a banner season in the minors or introduction to the majors, as brief as it was. He had to contend with unfamiliar command issues but still demonstrated the same first-rate stuff and rebounded to put together a 2.17 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings over his final seven minor-league starts.
There was a time before he ever debuted that Julio Teheran looked like he may have “lost it” and had some questioning his top-prospect standing. Madison Bumgarner, too. Giolito’s issues weren’t even as pronounced as theirs, but the Nationals didn’t want to take any chances. Neutral evaluators remain undeterred.
So is there more to Eaton, then? In real life, maybe. He’s regarded as a plus defender but will be shifting back to center field full time, where he won’t rate as highly. In terms of offensive output, which is all Fantasy owners care about, I have little reason to suspect anything will change.
|BA: .284||HR: 14||RBI: 59||R: 91||SB: 14|
It’s a worse park, but a better lineup and maybe a more favorable stolen base situation. But we’re talking degrees here and nothing that’s going to transform a mid-range Fantasy outfielder into something other than a mid-range Fantasy outfielder.
The more notable aspect of Eaton’s move is what it means for Trea Turner, who could have easily settled into the center field role if the Nationals hadn’t found a more permanent solution. Now, as has been widely speculated this offseason, he figures to shift to his natural shortstop position, which would give him triple eligibility in Fantasy, with shortstop being the most valuable of all.
|BA: .342||HR: 13||SB: 33||OPS: .937||AB: 307|
Seeing as he was the best player in Fantasy for his half-season in the majors, pushing him to late in the second round already seemed like an abundance of caution. Now, it’s going to be even harder to justify. I had already moved him up to second in my second base rankings in Rotisserie leagues. I’m considering doing the same in Head-to-Head points.
You know how I said Giolito wasn’t the only player the White Sox are getting back in the deal? Yeah, Reynaldo Lopez, No. 11 in my pitching prospect rankings, is another, and it’ll be interesting to see the approach the White Sox take with him. The Nationals seemed committed to making him a starter — and he did have a breakout season in the minors and a couple of noteworthy outings, including an 11-strikeout effort against the Braves, in the majors — but because of his smallish stature and triple-digit fastball, some evaluators like him more as a reliever. The only relievers that matter in Fantasy, though, are closers, and as of now, Lopez wouldn’t be the first in line for that role.
But one thing that shouldn’t be lost here: He and Giolito are both much higher in the pecking order than they would have been in Washington, with its deep rotation and win-now mentality. The White Sox already have one rotation opening after trading Sale, and between Jose Quintana, James Shields and Miguel Gonzalez, they may well create a few more. Both Lopez and especially Giolito are now clearly draftable in standard mixed leagues.