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MLB: Trumbo to D’Backs, Eaton to White Sox in Three Team Trade

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels pulled off a three team trade that saw the likes of Trumbo and Eaton find new homes.

Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks trade
Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks trade

Aug 14, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo (44) warms up before the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

A major three-team trade has been completed today between the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks in a deal first reported by Jon Heyman.

To be a little bit clearer, the principal parts of the trade are:

There may be other small pieces included somewhere, as had been earlier reported, but those are the names that are most relevant.

Diamondbacks

One year after the Diamondbacks made a surprise appearance to the playoffs, this team faltered in their quest to make it back-to-back years in 2013.

In Mark Trumbo, the Diamondbacks added a right-handed bat with some thump. A whole lot of thump. In fact, there aren’t many players that are better at hitting home runs than Trumbo:

This isn’t simply adding a big bat to the lineup, though, for Arizona.

There was a glut of outfielders last year that, when they were all healthy, forced some good players to the bench for Arizona. Between Eaton, Gerardo Parra, Kubel, and Ross,  and with the emergence of A.J. Pollock as a decent option, there wasn’t enough playing time to go around. And that was after trading Justin Upton and letting Chris Young go.

The Diamondbacks traded a young centerfielder with a lot of promise in Eaton to get a lot of power from the corner outfield in Trumbo. Pollock makes this a bit easier to swallow, as only one of them was going to get to play centerfield. The move to Arizona should help Trumbo’s power numbers, but how this works out in the end for Arizona won’t be certain for years.

White Sox

In order to acquire a good all-around centerfield prospect like Eaton, you’re going to have to give up a good player. Hector Santiago fits the bill.

In Eaton, though, the White Sox are getting a player that Baseball America had as a top 50 prospect half-way through last season. Eaton can also play all three outfield positions, which could help the White Sox eventually move  Alejandro De Aza, who is still arbitration eligible.

Eaton profiles to be a solid Major Leaguer. He’s had good numbers at every level, and there’s a reason he’s involved in a deal of this magnitude. His problem, as pointed out in the SBNation Minor League Blog, is that he doesn’t produce much for power, and it gets worse when he’s not in a great hitting environment. U.S. Celluar Field, the home of the White Sox, can be prone to the home run, but not to the extra base hits. For a guy who relies more on speed than power, this can be a problem. Eaton can make up for this problem with his speed on the bases, but they have to let him run first.

This is almost certainly a move to get De Aza one foot out of the door. The White Sox aren’t going to be contenders, playoffs or otherwise, next year, and having that contract doesn’t serve much purpose. Look for this to be the first of a few more moves to come down the pipe from Chicago.

Angels

The Angels are the proverbial “guy who talks about the good ol’ days at a party”.

A year ago, the Angels gave a monster deal to Josh Hamilton. The year before that, it was Albert Pujols. Those two guys have an Average Annual Value of $50-million. Not only do they have those huge contracts to carry, but the best all-around player in baseball, Mike Trout, is just a year away from arbitration. The window to win for the Angels is slamming fast, and this is part of their final bid to win a championship.

The Angels acquire Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs, both young pitchers with fewer than 300 combined MLB innings between them. As of right now, Santiago is a bit of a surer bet than Skaggs. Santiago is wild, but improved his BB/9 last year by pretty much a walk every 11 innings. Even though his K/9 did come down, it was still a pretty robust 8.3K/9 and the ball was staying in the park a bit better for him (his rate of pitches chased outside the zone improved from 2012, as did his Swinging Strike percentage). A move to Los Angeles can only help that HR/9 rate even more.

Skaggs is not a big arm but struck out as many batters per nine innings as Santiago last year. He, too, was victimized (to an even greater degree) by the long ball, and should also be helped a bit with his new surroundings.

The arms race was on in the AL West between the Athletics stocking their bullpen, the Mariners signing Robinson Cano, and the Rangers getting Prince Fielder. The Angels couldn’t sit idly by and assuming Pujols and Hamilton are healthy to some degree, aren’t going to lose a lot of power in the lineup.

This is a trade that works for all three teams and works in the context of what they’re trying to do as a franchise. Eaton is a nice prospect, while Skaggs and Santiago still haven’t proved anything, so the official “winners/losers” list is going to have to wait a few years.

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