What the Angels were thinking: GM Jerry Dipoto walked into the winter meetings thinking he was highly unlikely to trade Trumbo. But by Monday afternoon, when Towers -- who had been talking to the White Sox about an Eaton deal -- texted Dipoto to present a deal for Skaggs and Santiago, everything changed. "We were always committed to the idea," Dipoto said, "that, if we were going to move Mark, it was going to be for young, controllable pitching. And lo and behold, we were able to access it."
Santiago projects as a dependable, left-handed, back-of-the-rotation innings-eater. But it's Skaggs, a former supplemental first-round pick in 2009 and a longtime Dipoto favorite, who looms as the key to this deal. Two years ago, at age 21, he dominated the Arizona Fall League and was viewed as a potential star. But by late last season, scouts say his fastball velocity had dropped from 91-93 mph to 86-87. And that raised bright red flags for some people.
But Dipoto -- who, as Arizona's former interim GM, was involved in trading for Skaggs once before, three years ago, when the Diamondbacks sent Dan Haren to the Angels -- said the Angels had investigated Skagg's velocity drop carefully. And they concluded it occurred only late in the season, after he'd tired, and didn't find it "at all concerning" for a 22-year-old left-hander whose out pitches are his high-end curve and developing changeup anyway.
"I've had Tyler before," Dipoto said. "And when Tyler is himself, he's pitching from 88 to 92, and varying speeds up and down. His fastball switches planes, and then he uses his curveball and change off the fastball. So stuffwise, he has not changed markedly."
What the outside world is thinking: Several scouts I spoke with were much more concerned with Skaggs' drop-off in velocity than Dipoto, with one saying: "I liked him in the Arizona Fall League two years ago. He was the guy out there. But this year, his velocity was definitely down a little bit. And it seemed like the innings and the workload might have caught up with him. So how much quality did they really get in this guy? I think it's going to turn out to be less than the draft position said it would be. If they don't mind plugging him into the back of their rotation, then I like it fine. I like Santiago. He's a lock for me. Skaggs is the key guy in this deal."
The view from here: This was no steal for the Angels. But they saved about $4 million, which they desperately needed. They have a shot to replace Trumbo's missing homers if Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton stay healthy and do what they're getting paid to do. And they accomplished what many people thought they couldn't -- they found two low-salaried starters who are upgrades on what they had. "Yesterday, finding starting pitching was something we needed to do," Dipoto said. "But today, after making this deal, we have the freedom to do what we want to do."
What the White Sox were thinking: Only one team in the American League -- the Astros -- had a lower team on-base percentage than the White Sox (.302) last season. So Eaton, who had an incredible .450 OBP in four minor league seasons, is such a made-to-order fit for this team, GM Rick Hahn admits he was close to being accused of stalking Towers all winter in a quest to deal for this guy.