Our Chuck Garfien reported Tuesday that the White Sox are reuniting with Adam Eaton and bringing the seasoned outfielder back to the South Side on a one-year free agent deal valued at $ 7 million. The deal includes a club option for 2022.
It was Eaton, treated in the second of two trades four years ago, that started the White Sox rebuilding process. The Washington Nationals sent a trio of pitching prospects – Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López and Dane Dunning – to the South Side in exchange for the outfielder. Now Eaton is returning with a World Series ring on its finger as the White Sox transition from rebuilding to win-now mode after an ascending 2020 campaign.
Despite suffering injuries during his four seasons in Washington, Eaton has been mightily productive in good health. All in all, he ripped open . 279 /. 365 /. 419 as national. In his lonely, completely sane campaign in 2019, he released one . 792 OPS, scoring the top 15 home runs of his career and helping the Nationals win the World Series. Eaton did very well in the postseason, reaching the base at a . 361 clip and starring role in the World Series, where he had eight hits, including a pair of home runs, ran four times and ran in six runs.
His numbers in Washington were no different from the numbers he put up for three seasons on the South Side from 2014 to 2016. Eaton hit it . 290 /. 362 /. 422 in 433 games with the White Sox.
Fans will, of course, remember how Eaton’s White Sox career ended during that dramatic and supposedly dysfunctional 2016 season that pushed the team into rebuild mode in the first place. Eaton played a role in the Drake LaRoche saga. And he didn’t get far with teammate Todd Frazier that the two reportedly hit bumps during the season. They still let the bad blood boil over the field during a game between Eatons Nationals and Fraziers New York Mets in 2019.
But this was undoubtedly a different time for the White Sox, who, thanks to Rick Hahn’s rebuilding, hadn’t even begun making plans for the long-term success they now have before them. A positive clubhouse culture has been established under former manager Rick Renteria and the team has no shortage of leadership skills. José Abreu, Tim Anderson, Giolito, Dallas Keuchel and Yasmani Grandal all play a role in this department.
Indeed, Eaton would get the bill for meeting the need in the right field. The White Sox tried to come up with a younger solution last winter when they were trading for Nomar Mazara. But not even a full calendar year later, Mazara was not advertised after completing only one home run during the shortened 2020 campaign.
Eaton has to prove that he can stay healthy, limited to a total of 118 games in 2017 and 2018, and missed the final third of the 2020 season with a broken index finger. But he’s a prolific hitter, a solid defender, and brings championship experience to an already strong line-up.
It’s the second big stir in so many days for the White Sox, who made a win-now statement Monday night by making a reported deal with the Texas Rangers for the start of pitcher Lance Lynn. It’s a move that brings the White Sox much closer to a championship-caliber starting rotation. And since Dunning has sent the other way and Lynn only has one more year of contract, this is a move that shows how serious the White Sox are in fighting for a ring in 2021.
One day later, with the beginning of the second Adam Eaton era, Hahn crossed another item on his to-do list outside of the season. In an off-season reunions – the White Sox brought Tony La Russa back to the manager’s chair decades after leaving the South Side – the latest once again shows the team’s desire for a roster starting the 2021 season with World, reliability and championship experience add series expectations.
Chicago White Sox, Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals, Free Agent
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