The Washington Nationals are still looking to address needs at center field and the closer. Could the White Sox and Rays help fill those needs?
While the Washington Nationals have yet to make that big splash this winter, two more names have been reported as possible trade targets for the outfield and at closer respectively. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports is reporting the Nats have asked the Chicago White Sox about right fielder Adam Eaton and they have talked trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for closer Alex Colome:
First, let’s start with Eaton. It appears as the days goes on that a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for center fielder Andrew McCutchen isn’t going to happen. While Eaton played the bulk of the season in right field last year, he does have experience playing center field (48 games in 2016).
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In 157 games last season, Eaton had a slash line of .284/.362/.428 with 14 home runs, 59 RBI’s, and nine triples. The 28-year-old is under contract until 2019 with team options for 2020 ($9.5 million) and 2021 ($10.5 million), so the cost to get him would be extremely high as the White Sox continue to rebuild.
After the Chris Sale discussions, the White Sox should have extensive knowledge of the Washington Nationals farm system. While Eaton might cost a lot in order to get him, he has led the American League in triples two of the last three seasons and has stole 14+ bases each of the last three years. He fits the aggressive mindset on the bases that the Washington Nationals use on the field.
This past season, Eaton finished with a 6.2 WAR, which is tenth in the American League among position players (according to Baseball Reference). If the Nats do get him, it would be best to put him in right field and move Bryce Harper to center field. Last season, Eaton’s 22 defensive runs saved was second among all Major League right fielder according to Fangraphs (Mookie Betts had 32).
As for Colome, the 27-year-old right-hander (turns 28 on December 31), had a great first season as the closer in Tampa Bay. He was 37-for-40 in save chances and had a 1.91 ERA in 57 games. He had 71 strikeouts to 15 walks and made his first All-Star team.
Colome is under team control until 2021, so he would fit the short-term and long-term needs for the Nats at the closer position. He showed excellent control in the second half last season. In 26 games, he had 32 strikeouts to just four walks and held opponents to a .202 batting average.
This past season, Colome used his four seam fastball only 52% of the time, but his average velocity was 94 miles per hour (according to Fangraphs), but he has a strong cutter. During the 2016 season, teams hit .143 against the cut fastball with 51 strikeouts and only one home run (courtesy of Brooks Baseball).
When looking at Eaton and Colome, these are two players that can help the Washington Nationals fill needs in the outfield and at closer. The question is how much would the Nats be willing to give up in trades to get either one of these players.