LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The three-team deal involving the Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels feels very lopsided, with one team clearly ahead (on paper), one in the middle and one clearly behind, in large part because two of the teams addressed serious needs while the third acquired a player they didn't need and can't easily deploy.
This deal is an enormous win for the Angels, who needed starting pitching of any sort, but especially needed young pitching with many years of control remaining. For one replaceable asset, they obtained two such starters, one who has already established himself as a major league starter, another who is a major league-ready option in need of some minor delivery tweaks.
Hector Santiago gives the Angels a solid back-end starter option, a fifth-starter floor with the potential for more if he can continue to throw more strikes. Santiago is unique among major league starters as a practitioner of the almost-lost art of throwing the screwball, a pitch that can be hard on the elbow but is especially effective because major league hitters never see it.
His fastball is just average and he's been fly ball-prone, but the latter is less of a problem in Angel Stadium than in U.S. Cellular Field. Santiago's main issue has been lack of control, although he cut his walk rate from 13.1 percent to 11 percent from 2012 to 2013, and I doubt he'll ever be better than "adequate" in that department, but he can miss enough bats to be worth maybe 2 WAR and fill 180 or so innings, both of which fill a real need for the Angels in the short term.
Tyler Skaggs was originally drafted by the Angels and went to Arizona in the Dan Haren trade, making this the second time that Angels GM Jerry Dipoto -- who used to work for Arizona -- has traded for him. Still just 22 years old, Skaggs took a step back in 2013 as the Diamondbacks shortened his stride, resulting in a higher release point that cost him several miles per hour on his fastball and depth on his breaking ball. Lengthen him out so he finishes out over his front side again and he should be back to 90-94 mph again with the hammer he had as recently as 2012, when he projected as a potential No. 2 starter and was the best left-handed starter prospect in the game.
Both Skaggs and Santiago are pre-arbitration players, so the Angels save nearly $4 million in the transaction for 2014.
Chicago fills a need
The White Sox picked up a player who was a favorite of mine heading into the 2013 season, outfielder Adam Eaton, a scrappy, hard-nosed, grinder type who has worked to make himself into a good enough defender that he could be average in center with work on his reads and above average or better in a corner.
He has an outstanding approach at the plate, getting himself into a lot of hitter's counts with the ability to foul off pitches he doesn't feel like he can take. He's an above-average runner whose only real negative is fringy power that could end up as 15-plus homers in the White Sox's homer-friendly home park.
Alejandro De Aza is their incumbent center fielder, so Eaton could end up replacing Alex Rios in right, posting a .370-380 OBP with very good defense. Santiago has value to them, but they have more arms who can replace him (like Erik Johnson) while they don't have anyone with Eaton's OBP potential -- Rios led the team in 2013 with a .328 mark before he was traded.
Trumbo a square peg in Arizona
The Diamondbacks' end of this leaves me at a total loss. They acquired a player they didn't need who doesn't fit their current roster and gave up two young, cheap, controllable assets on whom they seem to have completely soured in the past 10 months. Mark Trumbo is a very limited player overall -- he can only play first base and his huge raw power (at least a 70 on the 20-80) scale is mitigated by his inability to hit breaking stuff, resulting in chronic sub-.300 OBPs.
With Paul Goldschmidt kind of OK over there at first, Trumbo will have to play left field, which will bring back memories of Ryan Klesko for those of you old enough to remember that adventure; I can picture the Diamondbacks' front office sitting there at Salt River Fields in late March and wondering what the heck they've done. The minor leaguers coming to Arizona -- one from the Angels, reportedly fringy relief prospect AJ Schugel, and one from the White Sox -- don't matter enough to change the fact this is a net loss of value for the Diamondbacks.
There could be a ripple effect for Arizona, as now third baseman Matt Davidson becomes a surplus asset with Martin Prado likely moving from left field to third base. The Diamondbacks also have two comparable shortstops in Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings, only needing to keep one of them, and could try to use these two players to fill any remaining holes.