AL Central: White Sox win, Royals set up title shot

A couple of big trades went down recently, including an exciting three-way trade among the Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Surprisingly, everyone benefited, even if the Angels traded back for someone they originally traded away to get Dan Haren (sigh…). The Detroit Tigers also made a move, effectively making two moves in the process.

White Sox trade SP Hector Santiago to the Angels
Diamondbacks trade OF Adam Eaton to the White Sox, SP Tyler Skaggs to the Angels
Angels trade OF/3B Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks
Yowza! I nearly spit out my drink when I got this text message from ESPN. I’ll touch upon the Angels first. Good for you, Glen Coco, for dealing Mark Trumbo before his value skyrocketed. In return, they got two young pitchers — and yes, one of them they originally drafted and then traded to get Haren — which is exactly what they needed: bullpen depth and young players. Now think about how lethal Arizona’s corner infielders are. The Diamondbacks gave up a lot for Trumbo, though. If it was a secret until now, let it be known that I am a huge Eaton fan, so I think it was premature of the Diamondbacks to deal him before they could reap the benefits (and then some, if they decided to trade him once his stock rose). Same goes with Skaggs. So, at its roots, the White Sox win this trade for giving up only Santiago to get Eaton. Santiago has potential but the walk rate is a large concern. It’s trending in the right direction, though, and in a couple of years, Santiago could be a serviceable starter. Until then…

Winner: White Sox
Santiago’s preseason rank: 116th
Skaggs’ preseason rank: 80th, with upside
Eaton’s preseason rank: Low-tier starter, with upside — full rankings pending
Trumbo’s preseason rank: 2nd tier 1B — full rankings pending

Royals trade SP Will Smith, Brewers trade OF Norichika Aoki
I like Aoki. A buddy, colleague, what-have-you of mine dubbed him Ichiro Lite. And that’s exactly what he is. He’s consistent, albeit underwhelming, but he’ll give you double-digit homers and steals (well, almost). It’s hard to tell if he’s more the 2012 Aoki (10 HR, 30 SB) or the 2013 Aoki (8 HR, 20 SB), but those are serviceable numbers nonetheless. He also pretty much halved his strikeout rate while improving his walk rate, so there’s a lot to like as far as adjusting to Major League pitching is concerned. I think his 2014 will be a happy medium between his last two years. Meanwhile, the Royals gave up Smith to the rebuilding Brewers for only one year of Aoki (a point I should have gotten around to about 100 words ago), and Smith looked as if he was just turning a corner. I can’t say I was a fan of Men in Black III, and I loathed Smith for his horrendous, although short, 2012 campaign, so I’ll be the first to admit I overlooked Smith’s outstanding 33-1/3 innings in 2013. If he can keep up that momentum, the Royals may regret it. With a rotation that has relied on Jeremy Guthrie and Bruce Chen for years, it will leave me wondering how Smith might have improved things. In this trade, the Royals are leaning toward contending rather than rebuilding — which should come as no surprise, given their relative success last year.

Winner: Brewers
Smith’s preseason rank: Unranked
Aoki’s preseason rank: Low-tier OF

DET signs RP Joe Nathan
One move means two moves: Nathan is the closer, and Bruce Rondon is in limbo. I won’t pretend to tease the idea of the Tigers using Nathan as their setup man. Rondon will be relegated to the setup role at best, and if he thrives, questions will be asked. However, it could prove to be a stroke of genius, as the game’s most crucial pitching moments don’t always come in the final inning. But people don’t really care about that. People care about saves. Sorry, Rondonites. It’s 2015 or bust — and by bust, I mean, maybe the Tigers will trade Rondon instead of let him rot! Well, now I’m intrigued. This is why I can’t leave me alone with me.

Winner: Nathan
Nathan’s preseason rank: Pending
Rondon’s preseason rank: Fantasy irrelevant

CHW re-signs 1B Paul Konerko
The team won’t be in contention anyway, so they’re pretty much just thanking the guy for his long, highly productive tenure as a White Sock. Nothing to see here, except for a team that’s flushing away a few million dollars.

Winner: Konerko
Konerko’s preseason rankFantasy irrelevant


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