Shuffling the Deck: Ex-Diamondbacks
After trading away a potential superstar entering his prime last offseason (Justin Upton), Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers released his sequel to Winning the Offseason: The Totally Bonkers’ Way, with a couple of winter trades that make you go, “Hmm.”
And, as a fantasy baseball enthusiast, it’s a pair of moves I can really appreciate.
Towers plays the role of real-life GM like an off-the-cuff fantasy owner, proposing trades and trades and trades and hoping for a bite. It resulted in two more questionable transactions this offseason, the first of which sent Tyler Skaggs to the Angels and Adam Eaton to the White Sox for Mark Trumbo (and prospects). Then he forgot to hit the cancel button and jettisoned prospect Matt Davidson to Chicago for closer Addison Reed.
Kidding aside, Towers is a smarter man than I, and even if the majority disagrees with what he does, we can all agree that it makes for fantastic Twitter banter. This week, I take a look at the dynasty value of three former D-backs:
Tyler Skaggs, Angels
The No. 12 prospect a year ago, according to Baseball America, Skaggs went 6-10 with a 4.59 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 107:39 K:BB ratio in 104 innings in Triple-A Reno. Skaggs made seven starts for the Diamondbacks with mixed results, posting a 5.12 ERA with seven home runs allowed. The 22-year-old’s velocity was down this season, with a fastball range in the high 80s/low 90s. Skaggs goes back to the team that originally drafted him in 2009, but, unlike Hector Santiago (who was acquired in the same trade), he more than likely needs to earn his way into a starting spot. The 6-foot-5 southpaw works with a plus curveball and a changeup that produces plenty of whiffs, but the key for Skaggs is finding more life — and command — with his fastball. The Angels are still in the hunt for another starter, so Skaggs’ rotation certainty is far from a sure thing. After showing signs of a home-run problem, the move from Chase Field to Angel Stadium is unquestionably a move in the right direction, but, again, he needs to earn a big-league spot first. Skaggs’ dynasty value has fallen from a year ago, but, in this particular case, a switch from the National League to the American League is a good thing.
Adam Eaton, White Sox
Ben Carsley took a look at Chicago’s newest and grittiest outfielder in TDG’s first-ever “Prospect Smackdown” on Tuesday, and I can tell you that White Sox fans are already embracing @AdamSpankyEaton on the South Side. Towers sacrificed grit for muscles by subtracting Eaton and adding Trumbo, but the former is expected to gain a full-time job in Chicago after seeing limited action in Arizona’s revolving door of outfielders. After stealing 46 bases across three levels in 2012, Eaton entered the season with considerable hype until a left-elbow injury derailed his season debut. He appeared in only 66 games, slashing .252/.314/.360 with three home runs and five steals; it was essentially a lost season for Eaton, who failed to produce for his stash-friendly owners. U.S. Cellular provided a 5-percent jump for left-handed power this season, so a slight uptick in his power numbers can be expected. Eaton’s presence could soon mean the departure of another left-handed center fielder, Alejandro De Aza, who hit 17 home runs and stole 20 bases as Chicago’s primary leadoff man. With a full-time job in center field likely, Eaton’s fantasy prospects are on the rise. He could thrive in his new role, with a possible 10/25 output as soon as 2014. At age 25, there’s a lot to like.
Matt Davidson, White Sox
Perhaps Towers most controversial move of the offseason came when he traded third baseman Davidson, Arizona’s No. 4 prospect, according to Baseball America, for closer Addison Reed. Davidson goes from a shaky starter in Arizona to a possible full-timer in Chicago; reportedly, Arizona didn’t like his footwork at third base. And after running out Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie at the hot corner, it’s easy to see why the White Sox jumped at the chance to add the 22-year-old. After hitting 23 home runs in Double-A in 2012, Davidson slashed .280/.350/.481 with 17 home runs in Triple-A before his major league debut. With the Diamondbacks, he hit .237/.333/.434 with seven home runs in 31 games. He has a big swing that makes for many swings and misses (616 strikeouts in 591 minor league games), but he’s also capable of posting a plus on-base percentage. The good news is Davidson is the favorite to win Chicago’s third-base job out of spring training. While the bust factor is high, I’m predicting a .240-.250 BA with 20 home runs in 2014.