GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mere moments after the news broke in December that he was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks, White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton tweeted out, "Well, that escalated quickly … "
The "Anchorman" reference showed the lightheartedness of Eaton, but also the reality that he woke up as a D-back, and became a member of the White Sox in a matter of hours.
Trades are at the head of front office strategies in baseball, where the players sit as game pieces on the general manager's chessboard. For Eaton and teammate Matt Davidson, they got their first taste of the business side of the game.
"You are shocked when the team that drafted you has different needs," Eaton said. "And then of course there is one team that wants you and needs you, so there's kind of a balance of understanding that it is a game, but it is a business as well.
"Once you get in here, take in the front office and the guys around you, you figure out you are still playing the game of baseball."
While it did come as a bit of a surprise, Eaton said he has no ill feelings toward the D-backs organization, and he thanked them for the "opportunity of a lifetime."
Both Eaton and Davidson were drafted by Arizona, and each made their Major League debuts with the club -- Eaton in 2012, and Davidson in 2013.
The two were highly regarded prospects in the organization throughout their Minor League careers, and were supposed to be a part of Arizona's future.
However, before the 2013 season began, the D-backs acquired third baseman Martin Prado -- who plays Davidson's position -- and signed him to a four-year deal. Shortly after, Eaton injured his elbow and had to start the season on the disabled list, effectively losing his job to A.J. Pollock in the process.
Once the 2013 season was over, the D-backs sent Davidson and Eaton to the Sox in separate deals.
For Davidson, even though he had excelled in the Minors and won the Futures Game MVP Award, the Prado signing was an indication that a trade could indeed be a possibility.
"Obviously you want to come up with the team that drafted you, but they had a guy there that they signed to a long-term contract," Davidson said. "If he is there and is getting paid there for the next couple of years, they were going to have to do something. It wasn't too far-fetched of an idea. It's a business and we all know that. I'm just glad I got to get into a better opportunity here, than I would have had there."
Leaving an organization after the start of a career with the relationships that were made up to that point takes a bit of adjustment. But both Eaton and Davidson said the guys in the White Sox clubhouse have made the transition easier.
Eaton also explained that there is not a whole lot of compassion or advice from veteran players to others who have been traded because they know it is a business, and it happens frequently. With that said, players will reach out and welcome the new guys to the team to alleviate the process.
Of course, the Chicago fans help too.
"Going into the city, you can just feel the fans' passion for their sports teams," Eaton said. "From the Blackhawks, to the Bulls and to us, you can just feel the vibe that they stand behind their teams."
The emotions of a trade really are a roller coaster, but the one burning question that trumps all the topics involved is: What do the players do with all of their old team's gear?
"A lot of people have asked me that actually," Eaton said, laughing. "We just boxed it up. I hope to be a [White Sox player] the rest of my career, but if not and we make it back around we will have it. I give most of my stuff to family anyway, so they'll just box it up, too."
Davidson added, "I had this huge pile … but I'm just going to give a lot of it away and keep some for memory's sake."
Ross Dunham is a junior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less