Na­tion­als ob­tain Ea­ton from White Sox to play CF

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY KEVIN LEITZELL

The Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als have may found their new cen­ter fielder.

The Na­tion­als ac­quired vet­eran out­fielder Adam Ea­ton from the Chicago White Sox on Wed­nes­day for three young pitch­ers — right-han­der Lu­cas Gi­olito, right-han­der Rey­naldo Lopez and 2016 first-round pick right-han­der Dane Dun­ning.

Ea­ton bat­ted .284 with 14 home runs, 59 RBI and 14 stolen bases last sea­son with the White Sox. Af­ter mov­ing over from cen­ter, Ea­ton spent last sea­son in right field and was a fi­nal­ist for an Amer­i­can League Gold Glove Award. He led the ma­jors with 18 out­field as­sists.

“Adam fit our club per­fectly, left-handed bat, bal­anced our lineup, high en­ergy guy, edge to him, plays the game the right way, good hit­ter, good de­fen­sive player both in cen­ter field and out­stand­ing in the cor­ner, a pro­duc­tive player through­out his ca­reer,” Na­tion­als gen­eral man­ager Mike Rizzo said. “We see the ar­row still go­ing up with him and he’s a guy that will have years of con­trol and cost cer­taintly, and it al­lows us the flex­i­bil­ity to do many more things.”

Ea­ton has three sea­sons left on his $23.5 mil­lion, fiveyear con­tract. He’s due to make $4 mil­lion next sea­son, $6 mil­lion in 2018 and $8.4 mil­lion in 2019.

With the ac­qui­si­tion of Ea­ton, the Na­tion­als can move Na­tional League Rookie of the Year run­ner-up Trea Turner from cen­ter field to his nat­u­ral short­stop po­si­tion. How­ever, Rizzo wasn’t about to com­mit to such a move.

“Po­si­tional flex­i­bil­ity is a good thing to have, we have it,” Rizzo said. “We have sev­eral play­ers that can play dif­fer­ent po­si­tions suc­cess­fully. Trea has proven he can play short­stop, cen­ter field, sec­ond base ef­fec­tively. Bryce has proved he can play cen­ter field, left and right, same thing with Adam Ea­ton. So we have a lot of flex­i­bil­ity and it al­lows us a lot of ways to put a lineup on the field.”

The White Sox have be­come fa­mil­iar with the Na­tion­als’ prospects as the trio be­ing sent to Chicago were re­port­edly dis­cussed as part of trade of­fers for lefty Chris Sale be­fore he was shipped to Bos­ton on Tues­day.

“We’ve dis­cussed this player and sev­eral other play­ers with the White Sox for quite a while now,” Rizzo said. “It did gain mo­men­tum af­ter the Sale deal was done and it ac­tu­ally came to­gether fairly quickly over the last cou­ple of days.”

Gi­olito, 22, was the Na­tion­als’ first-round pick in 2012. He made his ma­jor-league de­but in June and was 0-1 in six starts with a 6.75 ERA.

“To­day is both an ex­cit­ing an a hum­bling time af­ter be­ing traded from the Na­tion­als to the White Sox,” Gi­olito said in a state­ment on his Twit­ter ac­count. “I am grate­ful to the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als or­ga­ni­za­tion for giv­ing me the op­por­tu­nity to pur­sue my dream of play­ing in the MLB. I will miss the won­der­ful peo­ple I met along the way. I am ab­so­lutely thrilled to be join­ing the Chicago White Sox. I can’t wait to play in the great city of Chicago for such a sto­ried fran­chise. Look for­ward to meet­ing my new team­mates, the coaches and staff!”

Lopez was 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 games for the Na­tion­als last sea­son.

“It’s never easy to let go of your prospects,” Rizzo said. “All three of those guys are high serv­ing guys that have a bright fu­ture.”

Na­tion­als lose out on closer can­di­date

Cross off another pos­si­ble closer from the Na­tion­als’ shop­ping list.

The World Cham­pion Chicago Cubs ac­quired All-Star re­liever Wade Davis from the Kansas City Roy­als on Wed­nes­day for out­fielder Jorge Soler. Davis takes over the closer role for the Cubs from free agent Aroldis Chap­man.

“Wade is go­ing to pitch the ninth in­ning,” Cubs gen­eral man­ager Jed Hoyer said.

Davis helped the Roy­als win the 2015 World Se­ries. In 271⁄3 ca­reer post­sea­son in­nings as a re­liever, he has a 0.33 ERA with 39 strike­outs. Davis went 2-1 with 27 saves in 30 op­por­tu­ni­ties and a 1.87 ERA last sea­son.

The Davis trade to the Cubs sig­naled the sec­ond time this week the Na­tion­als missed out on ac­quir­ing a closer.

In­cum­bent Na­tion­als closer Mark Me­lan­con signed on Mon­day with the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants to a fouryear, $62 mil­lion con­tract, so far the rich­est con­tract for a closer.

Na­tion­als man­ager Dusty Baker made it known on Wed­nes­day that he wanted Me­lan­con back, but money was a fac­tor.

“We all wanted Me­lan­con, you know, but we don’t have the bud­get or the packed sta­dium for 800 games in a row like the Gi­ants do,” Baker said. “They have more re­sources than we do. We got a lower bud­get and every­body has a bud­get. If we would have spent that on Me­lan­con, we wouldn’t have been able to spend any­thing on any­body else.”

Baker ac­knowl­edged the pos­si­bil­ity of still ob­tain­ing a player to fill the role.

“Well, the winter is not over yet, so you can’t be fear­ful of some­thing that still has a chance to fill that po­si­tion,” Baker said. “So, it would be dif­fer­ent if we were in, you know late Fe­bru­ary, you know late Jan­uary, early Fe­bru­ary.

Be­sides Me­lan­con and the since-de­parted Jonathan Papel­bon, four other Na­tion­als pitch­ers had at least one save last sea­son. Righty Shawn Kel­ley had seven saves. Baker didn’t rule out an in­ter­nal can­di­date in the role.

“Some­body al­ways emerges,” Baker said. “I be­lieve that, that some­body will come for­ward. They will sep­a­rate them­selves from the pack. But in the mean­time, we’re still look­ing to fill that void.”

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