Well, that escalated quickly...
— Adam Eaton (@AdamSpankyEaton) December 10, 2013
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — There are two kinds Adam Eatons in this world of Major League Baseball. The Chicago White Sox are getting the Adam Eaton who plays the outfield, not the guy who used to pitch for the Padres, Phillies and others — but not since 2009.
Adam C. Eaton, 25, heads to the White Sox on Tuesday in a three-team trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels. The D-backs get slugger Mark Trumbo from the Angels, who get left-hander Hector Santiago from the White Sox and lefty Tyler Skaggs from Arizona.
Trumbo has been on the market for a while, and the D-backs have been dangling Skaggs, their top prospect from a year ago, but Eaton has a point — the deal as it went down did seem to escalate quickly at the winter meetings, where very little action had occurred so far. The White Sox, with some pitching depth and a woeful offense, stepped in to make it a match.
Eaton, the D-backs' No. 4 prospect a year ago, is a speedy center fielder with a good reputation on defense who has shown the ability to get on base in the minor leagues. He's hit at a .348/.450/.501 clip the minors in 1,560 plate appearances. He stands only 5-foot-8 (his nickname is "Spanky") and some of his minor-league power relates to playing in hitter-friendly ballparks. Eaton was expected to make the D-backs opening-day lineup in 2013, but he got a late start after suffering an elbow injury in spring training. He batted .252/.314/.360 with five stolen bases in 277 plate appearances.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Eaton had a "plus arm" before he did rehab — opting against surgery for a torn UCL, and he expects Eaton's throwing ability to be the same quality in 2014.
Eaton's so-so rookie season, along with the rise of A.J. Pollock, gave the D-backs depth in center from which to deal.
If he can't do better, the Sox won't have improved themselves over Alejandro De Aza, their incumbent center fielder. But if Eaton plays to potential, they have a legit leadoff man for the next five or six years at least.
Santiago has put up very good numbers — aside from too many walks — in his two seasons with the White Sox. He strikes out nearly a batter per inning and gives the Angels a nice replacement for Jason Vargas, who left via free agency for Kansas City.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Eaton had surgery.]
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