OXON HILL, Md. — The Washington Nationals did make a deal with the Chicago White Sox during their hometown winter meetings, after all, only it was for center fielder Adam Eaton, not lefty Chris Sale.
The price of Wednesday’s swap was still steep: Washington parted with three young pitchers, including top prospect Lucas Giolito, hard-throwing Reynaldo Lopez — who made the team’s postseason roster — and 2016 first-round draft pick Dane Dunning.
The trade came on the last day of the so-called “hot stove” sessions outside the nation’s capital, allowing Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo to avoid leaving empty-handed after failing in a bid to get Sale, who went from the White Sox to the Boston Red Sox, instead.
Rizzo also had acknowledged discussing a deal for Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen.
By putting Eaton in center, the Nationals can move Trea Turner — runner-up for 2016 NL Rookie of the Year — back to his natural position, shortstop.
Eaton has three guaranteed seasons left in a $23.5 million, five-year contract that calls for him to earn $4 million next year, $6 million in 2018 and $8.4 million in 2019. The deal includes a $9.5 million team option for 2020 with a $1.5 million buyout and, if 2020 is exercised, a 2021 team option for $10.5 million with a $1.5 million buyout.
The 28-year-old Eaton has a .284 career batting average with a .357 on-base percentage and a .414 slugging percentage, with 34 homers and 177 RBIs in five seasons in the majors with the White Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Last season, he hit .284 with 14 homers, 59 RBIs and 14 stolen bases, while leading the majors with 18 outfield assists.
The 22-year-old Giolito, a first-round pick in the 2012 amateur draft, made his major league debut in June and went 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in six starts for Washington.
Lopez, also 22, was 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 games, including six starts, for the Nationals in 2016.
The 21-year-old Dunning was the 29th overall pick this year out of the University of Florida.