Just moments ago it was announced that the Washington Nationals have struck a deal with the Chicago White Sox for the missing piece to their outfield.
After days of negotiations with the Pirates surrounding Andrew McCutchen, the Nationals dealt Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning, to the White Sox for their star right fielder, Adam Eaton.
Eaton, who just turned 28 yesterday, is coming off a season where he totaled a 6.2 bWAR providing a .362 OBP near the top of the lineup and rounding out as the best defender in MLB at his position. Defensively, he provided a UZR best 23.1 along with 22 defensive runs saved which was behind only Mookie Betts. Offensively, he provided a 115 wRC+ which ranked him 11th in MLB.
Eaton’s value isn’t just in his numbers on the field, but off the field as well. At just 28, he is two years younger than Andrew McCutchen. Also, he is owed just $38,400,000 through 2021 if the Nationals decide to pick up his options.
Surely you can see the value in this for the Nationals and the reasoning they desire to add Eaton opposed to Cutch. However, there is a need to understand why the Pirates didn’t panic and settle for a lesser offer.
As mentioned in this article (Cutch Happens, But For What Team?) it isn’t needed to trade Cutch, but he certainly presents the best opportunity for the Pirates to bring back quality pitching for this season. We mentioned that the Pirates should value Andrew’s stock highly as his numbers post Atlanta series show there is good reason to expect a bounce back in 2017. The article ended with the possibility of Andrew staying in the ‘Burgh, and though it’s still way too early to predict, with the Nats deal passing it becomes more of a possibility.
There are reasons why I am not concerned that the Pirates didn’t become shaken and lower their offer for the Nationals. For one, just a return of Lucas Giolito would not satisfy me as the return. Giolito is a great prospect and seemingly becoming a household name with only 21 innings pitched in the majors. It was found that the Buccos weren’t stuck on having Robles in the deal as well, but I would want more assurance in a veteran pitcher included in the deal as well.
Giolito is the Nationals #1 prospect and MLB’s #3 prospect. He provides a high 90’s MPH fastball with a nasty 12-6 curve. His ceiling is as high as they come in baseball, but much like a player we already have in our system there are concerns over his control. We are all aware of the promise Tyler Glasnow brings to this club. After witnessing his debut and seeing the the concerns play out live with his control issues, you can see why Giolito isn’t a sure thing. I’d love the opportunity to have a system that features Tyler Glasnow and Lucas Giolito on the verge of making an impact in the majors, but the reasoning for trading Cutch this offseason was to ensure our pitching needs for 2017 are met.
In 2016, Giolito allowed a 3.4 BB/9 rate in the minors while allowing 8.1 H/9. In the limited innings he pitched in the majors it sky rocketed to 5.1 BB/9 and 11 H/9. His 2.97 ERA in MiLB this year looks promising, but it’s essentially everything we have seen out of Glasnow and yet the Pirates are targeting starting pithing because they have yet to see anything to pencil Glasnow into their 2017 rotation.
Lucas Giolito does not ensure the rotation for 2017 is set. The thought of taking a hit by trading Cutch and putting all of our chips in on Lucas Giolito seems very illogical. Today, Neil Huntington showed he wasn’t going to be weak in negotiations when it comes to Andrew McCutchen and he shouldn’t be on the chopping block because he stuck to his guns. When news broke of a possible trade, many of the Yinzers cried ‘salary dump’ and ‘same old Pirates.’ With the Nationals moving on, he proved that the only way Cutch moves is if it improves our roster for 2017.