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Washington Nationals In Win Now or Never Mode?
- Updated: December 12, 2016
Washington Nationals loading up for title run
With baseball’s winter meetings wrapping up, mixed emotions are felt by many teams and fans. Some are excited about the moves and acquisitions their clubs have made, others are left scratching their heads in wonderment. For Washington Nationals fans, the question must be asked, is it win now or never?
The Nationals made news earlier in the week when they traded Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Adam Eaton. Washington had been engaged in talks with Chicago about acquiring Chris Sale and were also rumored to be pursuing All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Eaton appeared in 157 games last season hitting .284 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI. Washington will likely move Trea Turner back to his original position at shortstop, making room in the outfield for Eaton. Eaton is a good addition to the outfield giving manager Dusty Baker flexibility and durability in the lineup. While it’s easy to see why Washington made the trade to acquire Eaton, we could easily ask the question, was it necessary? Did they give up more than they gained? Is the pressure to win now so great that they hit the panic button?
Giolito was the 16th overall selection in the 2012 draft, and was rated as a top pitching prospect by Baseball America. In four starts with the Washington Nationals, he was 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. Dunning was drafted 29th overall from the University of Florida. Lopez, who ranked as the organization’s #3 prospect, appeared in 11 games for Washington registering a 5-3 record with a 2.91 ERA.
The trade itself doesn’t have the “WOW” factor of the Chris Sale deal. In fact, it’s been overlooked for days and hasn’t peaked a lot of interest. Why? Because Adam Eaton is your grandpa’s kind of baseball player. Eaton is a hustle guy, he plays the game hard, often with a chip on his shoulder. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s “old school” as the kids these days say. The bottom line with Eaton is you’re getting an everyday player who will hit for decent average with decent power, and plays a good center field. But why make the trade?
An alarming factor to take into consideration is the unprecedented contract demands rumored to have been made by Nationals all-star outfielder Bryce Harper. Harper is reportedly seeking a 10 year, 400 million dollar contract when he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2018 season. Was Eaton acquired knowing full well that the Nationals have zero intention of meeting Harper’s demands? It appears so. Eaton is under contract through the 2019 season with a team option for 2020. The Nationals know that Harper will garner a great deal of attention during free agency; if it ever gets that far. If the asking price for Chris Sale was as high as it was, Washington will likely demand a king’s ransom for Harper. And they’ll most likely get it. With two years left on his contract, one thing is certain; Bryce Harper is a Washington National. The only question is, for how much longer?