Nationals Trade for Adam Eaton: 2017 Fantasy Fallout

The Nationals made waves Wednesday, dealing for Adam Eaton. After this latest blockbuster deal, what is the fantasy fallout heading into 2017?

The winter meetings are great. This week has certainly been interesting, as there seems to be blockbuster deals every day. Today was no different, as the Nationals made the move to acquire Adam Eaton from the White Sox. What is the fantasy fallout from the deal?

The Nationals seemingly have been connected to all the big names so far, but they pulled the trigger on a deal today that netted them, Adam Eaton. Eaton will take over in CF, bumping Trea Turner back to short. The move immediately helps the ball club while their championship window remains open. But, is Eaton’s fantasy value effected at all?

A large part of Eaton’s value, is that he ranks as one of the best defensive OF in the game. He is solid in CF, both also excels in the corners, only providing more versatility. There are not too many fantasy leagues that will reward you for his defensive prowess, but it is a huge part of his value and why the Nationals gave up what they did.

Eaton is no slouch with the bat either. He posted a, .284/14 HR/63 RBI/14 SB/.790 OBP  line in 2016, and will be slotted at the top of the Nats order. Over the last three seasons, he has continually improved.

It started in 2014, when he was able to post a .300 AVG over 123 games, but lacked production in any other category. But, over the next two following seasons, he raised his HR and run production seamlessly. Over this three-year span, he as also posted at least 26 2B, and at 9 3B per season.

Eaton’s batted ball data is remarkably consistent over this span as well. His LD rate has stayed in the 20-22% range, his FB rate has climbed consistently to the upper-20s, and his Med contact stays in the low 50s.

Eaton has become a consistently solid offensive threat, and the Nats are banking on him being the table setter they have lacked.

Moving from U.S. Cellular to Nationals Park, will not help his power any. But, he did have 7 HR at home, and 7 HR on the road, so owners can expect another 10+ HR campaign. He is quick, and a solid base runner, but he just has not attempted as many SB as one would think.

He had only 19 attempts in 2016, a near seven base dip from the two years prior, so it will interesting to see if the uber-aggressive Dusty Baker, will give him the green light on the basepaths. It is not too wild to think, that this will be the season where he finally eclipses the 20 SB mark.

While the trade for Eaton immediately helps the Nats, the improvement did not come without a steep price. Chicago was able to get universal top-5 prospect, Lucas Giolito, top prospect Reynaldo Lopez, and 2016 1st round pick, Dane Dunning

The hope is that this trio will be a huge part of the White Sox’ plan to rebuild and get back to contending. The real crown jewel, or at least who it should be, is Giolito. Widely regarded as the best pitching prospect in the game, it is shocking to see him headed to Chicago .

The 21-year-old,  features a solid three pitch mix. His fastball has been clocked near the triple digits in the minors, and his secondary pitches are already considered pro ready. He did struggle during his brief MLB stint this season, an odd velocity dip and fastball command woes were the cause, but he will be leaned on as a part of the White Sox’ 2017 rotation.

Reynaldo Lopez came into the season as a top-50 prospect, but by the end of the season, many thought he had surpassed Giolito in terms of being the best young arm in the Nats system. He features a mid-90s fastball, which touched 100 MPH in his pro debut, a pro ready curve, and a decent changeup. But, his command is something he has to harness, as he posted a 4.5 BB/9.

Yet, thanks to his pure stuff, he found success lat season at the MLB level, in the bullpen and rotation, so his fantasy value is on the rise. Out of all the players in this deal, Lopez could have the most long term value.

Dane Dunning was selected as the 29th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of the University of Florida. Dunning showcased great command in college, and even though he lacks the high upside stuff that the other two youngsters do, he has a real chance to fly through the minors. His fastball can touch 95 mph, but it’s late action, makes it easily his best pitch. He also throws a changeup and slider, which need to be refined.

From a fantasy perspective, this deal in definitely intriguing. Eaton still deserves to be a mid-round selection, and I would even venture to guess that he will have a career best season in 2017. The counting stats will be there, his batted ball data continues to get better, and he will play for a manger that is known to be aggressive on the bases. Look for him to post something like a, .280/10-15 HR/55 RBI/20 SB/95 R, line in 2017.

Dunning is still a few years off from being on fantasy owners radar. Though, both Giolito and Lopez posses enough upside that they should both be selected next spring. As of now, Lopez can be drafted before Giolito though.

Fantasy owners simply have to see Giolito’s velocity climb back into the mid-90s before having confidence in him as nothing more than a SP5. But, both are great fliers, and could easily blossom into valuable fantasy pieces, so monitor them throughout the spring.