December 08, 2016 02:58 AM
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — The champion Chicago Cubs filled their only real need, getting All-Star reliever Wade Davis. He'll take the spot of closer Aroldis Chapman, who locked down a spot by returning to the New York Yankees with a whopping $86 million deal.
As for the Washington Nationals, well, they opened quite a debate Wednesday by trading not one, not two, but three talented, young pitchers for White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton.
And as the winter meetings wound down, the Yankees struck just before midnight. They reached a five-year deal with Chapman, according to a person familiar with the contract. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract was still pending a physical — it would be the richest deal ever for a reliever, shattering the $62 million, five-year pact Mark Melancon got from San Francisco just a couple days ago.
Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.
Ian Desmond also wound up in a new spot, reaching a $70 million agreement with Colorado on the last full day of baseball's annual gathering. The session ends Thursday morning after the Rule 5 draft, mostly for players left off 40-man rosters.
"The free agent market and the trade markets have both been a little slow," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said earlier in the day. "Things are picking up a little bit."
Closer Kenley Jansen was still in play, and Pittsburgh didn't trade — not yet, anyway — outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
As expected, the Cubs completed a deal for Davis. To get a closer who's been dominant for the last three years, the World Series champions sent outfielder Jorge Soler to Kansas City.
Davis, who finished out the Royals' win that clinched their 2015 title, moved right into the ninth-inning role Chapman held at Wrigley Field.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon avoided any assessment of who was best. Instead, he offered: "They're just different kind of pitchers."
But the opinions weren't so blurred after the NL East champion Nationals made their deal with the White Sox.
A day after missing out on White Sox ace Chris Sale, Washington traded top prospect Lucas Giolito, strong-armed Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 first-round draft pick Dane Dunning to get Eaton from Chicago.
Right away, Nats fans lit up Twitter, wondering why their team paid such a hefty price. Washington GM Mike Rizzo didn't blink at swapping the trio.
"We feel comfortable with the deal. We've done a lot of deals. I like win-win deals," he said.
"I think the White Sox did a great job of acquiring good, potential upside players. We got ourselves a good, young skillful player that we can control at below-market values for five seasons. And, again, you got to give to get," he said.
Eaton, who turned 28 on Tuesday, batted .284 with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs, stealing 14 bases and hitting an AL-leading nine triples. He topped the majors with 18 outfield assists.
"We see the arrow still going up with him," Rizzo said.
Praised Nationals manager Dusty Baker: "He's not afraid to get dirty and grimy, greasy, nasty — do everything there is to beat you."
The 22-year-old Giolito was the Nationals' first-round pick in 2012. He made his big league debut in June and was 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in six starts in the majors.
Lopez is also 22, and went 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 games last season. The 21-year-old Dunning was drafted out of Florida.
"We view all three of them, actually, as having the potential to become front-end-of-the-rotation pitchers," White Sox GM Rick Hahn said. "There's still a fair amount of development with each of them."
In other deals, San Francisco traded pitcher Chris Heston to Seattle Mariners for a player to be named. Heston pitched a no-hitter in going 12-11 as a rookie in 2015, but spent most of this year in the minors.
Also, the Marlins reached agreements with pitcher Jeff Locke and catcher A.J. Ellis.
By BEN WALKER
Updated: December 08, 2016 02:58 AM
(Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)