The Chicago White Sox are reportedly signing free agent outfielder Adam Eaton according to NBC Sports Chicago’s Chuck Garfien.
Eaton, who just turned 32-years-old a few days ago, will make $7 million in 2021. According to Garfien, the White Sox will also have a team option to bring Eaton back in 2022 for $8.5 million.
White Sox in agreement with free agent outfielder Adam Eaton, source tells @NBCSChicago. It's a 1-year, $7 million deal with a second year team option for $8.5 million.
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) December 8, 2020
This will be Eaton’s second stint on the south side, as he played three years for the White Sox (2014-16) before he was traded to the Washington Nationals following the 2016 season.
The initial reaction has been pretty negative from White Sox fans and this started since Garfien wrote about the possibility this week. While Eaton was always a solid player, putting up good offensive numbers, fans haven’t forgotten about his rift with Todd Frazier in 2016.
Yeah, remember the whole Adam/Drake LaRoche fiasco during spring training in 2016? Well, Eaton was on the LaRoche’s side and even went on the radio to say that Drake LaRoche, Adam LaRoche’s son, was a clubhouse leader.
Obviously, that was ridiculous and rumors started to circulate throughout the season that Eaton and Frazier weren’t seeing eye-to-eye. There has even been speculation that Eaton was categorized as a clubhouse cancer.
The Other Options
There’s also a negative reaction because the White Sox could have gone out and made an even better improvement for their outfield by signing George Springer. Yet, as stories started to come out about the team not wanting to spend for any of the top free agents this offseason the focus began to shift on guys like Michael Brantley or Joc Pederson.
Of course, Springer would cost about $100 million and both Brantley and Pederson are projected to earn more when they sign, so is this just another bad look for Jerry Reinsdorf? The White Sox are in prime position to compete not just for a division title, but for a World Series championship as soon as 2021, but their heights haven’t been set at the very top of the free agent market.
In the short 2020 season, Eaton slashed .226/.285/.384, with four home runs in 41 games. His 75 wRC+ was by far the worst in a single season for his career. But again, how much can you determine from a 60-game stretch. In 2019, Eaton was worth 2.3 fWAR, as he posted a 107 wRC+ hitting 15 home runs in 151 games. Yet, looking at his numbers, they have been subtly declining ever since his career season in 2016 with the White Sox.
Overall in his career, Eaton has slashed .282/.360/.416, being 12% better than the average hitter with a 112 wRC+. His strikeouts have stayed the same, right below 17%, while his walk-rate has settled into the 9% range.
So, the addition of Eaton the White Sox is definitely an improvement to what they’ve had in right field over the last few years. Yet, you can’t help to think that they could have added someone better in free agency.
The White Sox are still in the market for a closer, as Alex Colome is a free agent. After trading for Lance Lynn late Monday night, Joel Sherman threw out the name of Liam Hendriks, as a potential target for the White Sox.