If the Lance Lynn move upgraded the rotation while allowing the White Sox to deploy money elsewhere, they have a funny way of showing it.
One day after Jeff Passan told White Sox fans to shelve their hopes of George Springer, Chuck Garfien explained why this morning, breaking the news of Adam Eaton signing a one-year, $7 million deal to return to right field at 35th and Shields. There’s a 2022 club option for $8.5 million, with a $1 million buyout.
At his peak, Eaton would offer everything the White Sox need — strong OBP with some pop from the left side, and above-average right field defense. He gave that to the White Sox, and most of that to the Nationals, at least through 2019.
There are just two problems:
No. 1: Eaton, who just turned 32, is a high wear-and-tear player coming off a .226/.285/.384 season with the Nationals, which, paired with defense that’s languished a little below average with Washington since tearing his ACL in 2017, led to him being below replacement level last year. His season started with a hamstring strain during the first spring training, and ended in mid-September after fracturing his finger on a bunt attempt.
No. 2: Eaton, while a great player with the White Sox, was always less popular among teammates and media than he was with fans. The Hyde side eventually emerged when he called 13-year-old Drake LaRoche a team leader and fought with Todd Frazier in the clubhouse. A change of scenery served him well, because although he occasionally showed his ass — poorly defending Trea Turner’s homophobic remarks, pretending to have a mortgage when the Frazier beef resurfaced, defending low pay for minor leaguers — it didn’t derail the Nationals from winning a World Series, in which Eaton was a vital contributor.
Eaton might be a decent rebound candidate, but the Sox generally get what they pay for in free agency. Specific to this player and juncture, they haven’t been deep enough, whether in terms of talent or leadership ranks, to absorb somebody with Eaton’s issues. On paper, he doesn’t seem like a solution for this White Sox team. Given that Chuck Garfien dropped a podcast that preemptively defended such a move on Monday, I’m guessing the White Sox know you think this, too.
(Photo by Ian D’Andrea)
Despite being a short season, in 2020 Eaton “managed” to accumulate
We are gonna miss Mazara
Picking up where he left off on his last Sox stint!
Eaton was just mad they said Drake LaRoche wasnt still with the team
The Sox will sign Drake to a minor league deal to make Eaton happy.
Drake LaRoche will manage any games LaRussa misses due to jail time.
I mean he is younger.
Jesus seriously? Why do I feel like we’re heading for another Drake LaRoche situation here?
Eaton deciding not to talk about a subject that could get him in trouble represents an improvement over the Drake LaRoche situation.
I actually just heard the audio and it’s not as bad as the tweets made it sound (assuming it was actually near the end of the interview). Like you said Jim, it was kind of like “I don’t want to get anyone in trouble”.
For about 12 months there it seemed that maybe, just maybe the tide was turning and the Sox were becoming a competent organization. LOL nope. This is still the same organization that has ended 99 of its last 100 seasons without winning a playoff series.
This makes zero sense. Engel is a better option as this point.
They didn’t even bother to wait until better free agents were signed. Eaton was their Plan A. They’ll next sign Quintana and announce closer will be filled internally and that will be your 2020 off season.
I will celebrate signing Quintana. Eaton, not so much.
Should have just brought back Melky if they wanted to replay the classics.
I would have *much* rather brought back Melky to keep the DH spot warm for Vaughn— I mean, I would rather see if a Collins/Mercedes platoon can do the job, but Melky would have been to have in spring training to compete for it.
And I would be genuinely happy if the Sox signed Quintana to help the back of the rotation and give us some lefty depth.
D-Rob on an inventive-laden MiLB contract to see if he be our NRI Pitcher of 2021? Yeah. Let’s do it!
Todd Frazier to DH & backup Moncada at third when he needs a rest? Well, doesn’t really fill our needs at all but I can’t say I would hate seeing him again.
The only meaningful member of the 2016 team that isn’t hnequivically out of baseball — and who I also didn’t want back on the Sox — was Spanky himself.
Engel and Eaton can be platooned. Yes Eaton had a bad year last year. Yes he’s a tool. Yes this is not a great move. He is still going to be far better against RHP than Engel.
I know it’s not necessarily a good idea to draw sweeping conclusions based on 2020 stats, but Engel hit righties better than lefties (lower BA and OBP, higher SLG and OPS) and his stats were better than Eaton’s across his triple slash. Yeah, I’m not betting on Engel having suddenly morphed into a world beater, but it does cast a shadow on the notion that Eaton is going to be far better than him, much less in a way that negates the disparity in their defensive contributions at this stage.
I don’t really like this move at all, but it seems pretty safe to say that Eaton (assuming health) is going to be better than Engel against righties. Platoon splits take a while to stabilize.
This is too bad. I would rather have Mazara.
Agreed, he at least has youth and cost on his side.
He’s a man, Jim. He’s got a mortgage he’s paying, and two kids.
You wouldn’t understand up in your ivory tower with that blog money.
This team seriously works so, so hard to get people to hate them…
Build a team, slowly through losing and waiting, and more losing. So much losing -> bring in lovable players that are finally getting good to replace the obnoxious ones from the last generation -> find players with swag that can actually back it up -> go to the playoffs -> Jose Abreu wins the damn MVP and Robert looks like an absolute monster.
Hire Tony LaRussa. Bring back Adam Eaton (who is much, much worse at baseball than he was when he was obnoxious). FML
Ah well now I feel even more convinced that the Sox can’t evaluate talent. Unless this is just Jerry continuing his offseason of love, first helping to rehabilitate the image of an old drunken friend, now helping an unemployed former employee pay his mortgage.
An org that cries poor, yet I am continually amazed at how they willingly throw money away. It feels like the Sox wanted to get a head start on dumpster diving.
Maybe they spent all their offseason money on TLR’s severance.
As an aside…I don’t know how to evaluate a win in post-COVID world if -1 wins is 7 million dollars.
The progression of Sox Machine headlines really tells the story:
Day 1: we recommend not getting your hopes up
Day 2: please don’t screw this up
Day 3: why must my team give me recurring nightmares
LOL. Eaton wasn’t even one of the left handers listed in Nelson’s writeup. I wasn’t expecting this. Unless it was a depth add for a couple mil at the end of the off season.
Yeah, if we ignore all of this personality issues, I could have lived with him as a depth piece later in the offseason after they made a play for other better options, but that’s not what this feels like.
I have no issue with taking a flyer on him but no way is he worth $7M. Minor league deal or bust.
It does seem odd that they’d sign Eaton this soon unless they had suspicions another team had an offer on the table. I guess that if feelers to Springer made it clear that there was almost chance he’d sign with the Sox then pivoting to Eaton makes some kind of sense. If your pro-scouts say he’s healthy and likely to return to 2019 form, or close to it, his on-field play checks most of the boxes of what you’re seeking in right. I certainly wonder about what he brings to the club house. Hahn should know better than I about how good a fit he’ll be, so I have to defer to his judgement. I would have been more excited trying Rosario in right. But, it looks like World Series experience matters as much with player selection and it did with the managerial hire.
Even then, I don’t think Eaton is in the “must-sign” category of players that if you are out on Springer you have to jump and immediately sign Eaton.
This. If Eaton had another offer on the table, the Sox response should have been “great, have fun with that, we have better options”.
I agree. If the writing’s on the wall that there’s no way you sign Springer, I’d still pivot to considering Ozuna, Rosairo, Pedersen, etc. as right-field options. But if the Sox had predetermined that Eaton was their guy if Springer looked beyond reach then there is reason to do the deal early and move on to filling other holes especially as there were rumors that Eaton had other suitors. I’m trying to talk myself into believing that this isn’t just a dumb signing but honestly, I think bringing back Mazara to platoon with Engel makes more sense.
Well yeah, if you’re stupid, making a stupid decision makes sense.
This is very disappointing.
I don’t know how anyone could possibly be upset with this. We traded Eaton and turned him into Giolito, Lynn, and Lopez, and now we got Eaton back. It’s like we lost nothing! It’s a talent perpetual motion machine, baby!
Sale and Quintana back by the end of the year!
At least the roster map will look pretty rad with the Eaton loop added to it.
I haven’t seen an up to date version of that subway roster map in a while (since before the 2020 season, that is).
I’d be excited to see it right now though. I guess the only big changes are:
-Dunning > Lynn
-ITNL > Robert
-Draft > Heuer, Foster, Madrigal
-FA > Eaton (double connection)
-FA > Grandal, Keuchal
Not the same type of exciting changes as when we were making big huge trades constantly, but still some good stuff for the graphics.
Great idea. Flip him to someone else now.
So we are all under the assumption or impression that the LaRussa hire is on Jerry and Hahn didn’t want him because he understood how poor of a fit that would be in terms of the interpersonal piece, right? If that’s the case, and assuming he’s under some kind of fairly stringent budget constraints, how does he ignore the same thing with Eaton? If they need to go cheaper than Springer, they couldn’t at least go after one of the other handful of lefty bats? My apathy is growing…
Eaton returns, Cuthbert departs.
I liked Cuthbert’s chickens. I was rooting for him.
James Fegan sums up the past 14 or so hours well.
Sox traded a starter to get Lynn. I would consider another starter more than optional.
Absolutely. I don’t feel great about relying on of Cease, Lopez or Kopech. If that risk is just about how the fill the SP5 spot, that’s fine. If that risk is how they fill two rotation spots, that’s very much not ideal.
I hate this so much. This is a waste of money they are just as likely to get the same production from a Luis Gonzalez/Adam Engel platoon.
Not to mention a Joc Pederson/Engel platoon.
So frustrating. Suffer through a rebuild, get excited with a playoff appearance, and then get trolled with moves like La Russa and this. And what’s the clubhouse impact going to be?
I wasn’t a fan of the La Russa hire, but I don’t think managers make that big of a difference, and I thought he’d do “fine”.
I was ambivalent about the Dunning/Lynn trade, understanding it’s benefits, and I remained hopeful that money was being saved for upgrades elsewhere.
Today, I’m just sad.
It hasn’t even been a roller coaster of an offseason. More like a drive down a bumpy road that just resulted in a flat tire before reaching the end of the journey.
It is just stupefying. Regardless of how good is now, was then, is or might ever be, he is spectacularly immature.
That front office certainly has a short memory.
Its like you all forgot how much TWTW he brings to the table.
Ok, not a total loss of an offseason as yet. Added a #2/3 starter with current, not past success. Eaton’s a grinder, an actual right fielder, and whose OBP should be an upgrade. Simply signing Quintana or the like would result in an overall significant improvement in the rotation. Add a lefty bat for DH (Schwarber?), re-sign Colome and the boxes are checked, within budget and only Dunning gone.
Jerry’s not gonna spend, people. Dream if you like, but it’s a fools errand.
As much as that would be an incremental improvement in terms of on-field expectations, would you really be excited about that offseason? Lynn and a bunch of spare parts?
I’d consider Lynn, Quintana, and Schwarber all good/worthwhile adds who substantially improve the team. So I wouldn’t HATE the off-season. But considering RF was the biggest need coming in, Eaton really limits the ceiling on this winter.
Yeah I mean I don’t have a problem with any of those moves individually, but overall it feels underwhelming. Especially so when it seems like that kind of budget conscious offseason is their goal and not a fallback plan.
Go sign Hendriks, Paxton, and Schwarber (if he’d stop trying to pull everything) and that’s a pretty good team on paper.
Since September 1st, 2019, over 264 Plate Appearances, Eaton’s OBP is .288.
Significantly lower than Engel’s 2020 OBP, and only slightly better than Engel’s career OBP.
Lower than both of Leury’s 2020 and Career OBPs.
Lower than both of Mazara’s 2020 and Career OBPs.
I hope this is more a sample size thing than actual decline.
Eaton’s BABIP is also ~40 points lower than his career average over that span. There are a ton of reasons to hate this move, but a small sample size where the cause of the decline is clear (his plate control and ISO are still inline with his career over that span) isn’t one of them.
Ok let’s try this:
2017: .854 OPS
2018: .805 OPS
2019: .792 OPS
2020: .669 OPS
To me, that’s a pretty clear decline.
Now I need to drink something that makes me forget I saw this post.
It won’t be Malort
Let’s try that again, but instead of picking a year for no reason other than it making your argument look good, let’s look at his OPS since he started getting regular playing time.
2014: .763 OPS
2015: .792 OPS
2016: .790 OPS
2017: .854 OPS
2018: .805 OPS
2019: .792 OPS
2020: .669 OPS
Oh what do you know? That 2017 to 2018 drop wasn’t Eaton declining it was just him coming back to his typical OPS after having a really high one for a <200 PA, injury shortened season.
2020 wasn’t good for some reasons that are probably luck-related (BABIP) and some that probably aren’t (more Ks, fewer BBs). Maybe that really is a preview of things to come, but we know by now that making predictions based off of one season isn’t a good idea in general – particularly if that season has less than half of the sample size of a typical one.
The problem is they said themselves this time was different… Hahn said something to the effect of the money will be spent after we whiffed on Machado.
But did he say it would be spent well?
Getting attention on a national stage!
Sorry, struggling to figure out how to embed tweets still.
From MLBTR’s write-up. We keep reading this at the end of every transaction. When do they actually get around to making the big kind of splash that these smaller, less expensive moves should allow? Any savings seems more likely to be pocketed by ownership or spent on other middling solutions that will end up being a complete waste.
Brantley was not a right field option, nor was Rosario or Schwarber. Now sign one of those three to DH and that will help. A lineup of
against righties is pretty darn good. And having Eaton in front of Madrigal would allow Tony to hit-and-run a lot with Madrigal, using his great bat-to-ball skills as much as possible.
Is Eaton really an RF option? Fangraphs has his defense as worse than Mazara’s.
Sorry the bolding didn’t show up because the quotation bolded everything. I was trying to comment on the last part that says “by signing Eaton rather than investing in a more expensive option like Brantley or Pederson, the Sox now theoretically have more money to spend on other potential roster moves later in the winter”. You could have said the same thing about the Lynn trade and many many other moves the Sox make every year. These moves only make sense if you do indeed follow through and make that big follow-up move that these cheaper moves allow you the flexibility to make. Instead it seems like the lower payroll IS the goal and not the room to add more.
Ugh, the White Sox will buy you steak and have you wash it down with Malort
You made me look for Malort, and I found this:
Like the Sox signing aging free agents, it’s a Chicago tradition.
Flank steak is technically steak.
He had shittier metrics than Mazara last year, how the hell can they sell this as an upgrade? At least Joc Pederson still hit home runs as all of his other stats went the wrong direction. This is another cheap ass move by a team that is fine finishing in 2nd place.
Craig Edwards over at FG likes the Lynn trade.
For reference purposes, I now have the 2021 payroll at like $117.5 mil.
Also FG depth charts (which right now only includes Steamer projections) has them a half win ahead of Cleveland and a half win behind Minnesota.
I have it at like 106….
Which arb method did you use? I took the highest one just to be conservative.
Cot’s has them at $112m. It looks like they’re using their own arb estimates though.
So, in a nutshell, the Sox went from “Eaton is in his prime, but he’s such a clubhouse cancer we have to get rid of him,” to “well, he’s washed up but a comes cheap, better squeeze him back in.”
Oh, now we’re consulting players on bringing in jerks.
This is really good to hear. Despite his dreadful 2020 season, Eaton is a proven Major league right fielder with a skill set that fits the White Sox needs. If Abreu and other “clubhouse leaders” are on board with bringing him back, I’m in no position to question the move on that account.
The plural of “those who played with Eaton in 2016” is interesting, in that it can only apply to Abreu and Anderson on the current roster.
Yes! My mistake.
Edwin E was a great clubhouse presence, a great fit, except…
Still not a fan of the move, but if they really did reach out and ask beforehand, that was a good move.
That doesn’t read like a ringing endorsement to me. Just sounds like they feel they are strong enough to take a kick in the nuts.
Winning means that the payroll will increase and that just isn’t the goal.
I don’t necessarily love or hate either the Lynn or Eaton moves, but the biggest disappointment to me is they are both essentially short-term rentals and not part of the long-term core. If the Sox were going to flex any muscle this offseason, financially or prospect wise, I would have hoped it would be for someone who’d be around in a significant role for a longer time as opposed to basically rolling the dice for one year.
It does appear that most of the negative value Eaton accrued last year came against lefties, see his abysmal .366 OPS in 45 PAs. In contrast, against righties he OPS’d .768 over 131 PAs, more in line with his career norms.
Perhaps LaRussa will use him as the strong side of a platoon with Engel, if Eaton’s struggles against lefties carry into ’21?
Just trying to see an upside…
Yes, but the priority was a left bat that we so desperately need.
Lefty bats are used to hit against RHP…
Eaton bats left-handed and has performed better against RHP his entire career.
Renisdorf is so cheap!
I just wanted to be the first to say that this off-season. 🙂
Clearly the rebuild is over and we’re back to normal White Sox shit.
you hate to see it.
as a very wise man once said, “it’s a disheartening fucking situation”.
is abreus kid old enough for a leadership role yet?
Apparently there are rumors that they’re still in on Brantley and are after Hendriks. Saving money on RF and SP to spend more on DH and RP seems like an odd strategy, but upgrades are upgrades I guess.
Nightengale threw cold water on the Brantley rumor. But if they came away with Lynn, Eaton, Brantley, and Hendriks (plus small pieces), I would take that even if I’m not thrilled about Eaton.
While I don’t necessarily think Hendriks is the most optimal use of funds, boy that would be a monster of a bullpen.
I’m trying (the operative word) to move past my frustration over Eaton by focusing on this: Steamer projects Eaton for 1.2 fWAR and in 2019 he put up 2.3 fWAR. If not Springer, the White Sox RF was likely to settle around that kind of production anyway. It’s ridiculous they settled on Eaton at that price so quickly, but the outlook isn’t as bad as my initial reaction. They better spend the money elsewhere…
Would 1.2 fwar put him in the top 3/4 of MLB right fielders?
Here are the ZiPS projections for 2021:
Springer 123 games 4.3 war
Pederson 135 games 2.3 war
Brantley 122 games 2.0 war
Eaton 118 games 2.0 war
Rosario 134 games 1.6 war
JBJ 128 games 1.4 war
Mazara 129 games 1.0 war
Dahl 102 games 0.7 war
@dansomeone That’s really interesting. Based on those projections I can see how Hahn would pivot to Eaton if he felt that Springer, for whatever reasons, just wasn’t going to sign with the Sox. Pederson projects to have a marginally higher WAR than Eaton but he’s clearly a much less versatile player. Brantley and (my man) Rosario are less capable and less experienced in right and either might yet be added as primarily a DH. Mazara may yet end up with the Sox on a minor league deal if Menechino maintains faith in Nomar’s “untapped” whatever. I’m curious how ZiPs evaluates injury history: the projections seem to minimize the impact of Eaton’s injuries while defining Dahl based on his.
Be careful, I think you’re pulling these numbers from the player pages? Because Dan hasn’t done Boston or Minnesota ZiPS yet this year. Those numbers on the player pages are long-term projections from last year and do not take into account 2020 performance, just FYI. Here’s what he’s released for 2021 ZiPS so far:
Springer: 3.9 zWAR in 577 PAs
Joc: 2.0 zWAR in 437 PAs
Brantley: 2.9 zWAR in 557 PAs
Eaton: 1.8 zWAR in 540 PAs
Rosario: Not yet released
JBJ: Not yet released
Mazara: 0.5 zWAR in 516 PAs
Dahl: 0.7 zWAR in 429 PAs
ZiPS is also still projecting Eaton as an above average defender, which seems like a dangerous assumption.
Ah, thank you for clarifying, That explains why the player pages have “3 year projections” but only show two seasons. Even with that, those updated projections are pretty similar to last year’s, with Brantley +1.
As for defense, according to the fangraphs article on the signing, “Eaton can still run pretty well — he was in the 74th percentile of Statcast’s sprint speed metric this year.” So he may still be able to provide some value with his defense.
Again, just food for thought.
If Eaton starts in RF then it’s proof Jerry is a cheapass and did the rebuild just to save money and not to win. I don’t care how much “saving” on OF enables them to spend on DH or RPs.
Even after adding Lynn and Eaton they are _still_ below MLB average payroll, and every single team that’s below them is small market or rebuilding.
This feels like a good-enough move not a World Series move. The money will be spent, and here it is. Maybe they have enough left over to bring back Adam LaRoche as DH.
My outfield/DH suggestion was Eaton and Na. Not sure if the Sox have interest in Na, but he is now available.
I had a very negative reaction to the Adam Eaton acquisition when it was first announced (see above), but after giving it a couple of days, I now feel OK about. I still believe there were better options available, but it’s not the terrible decision that I initially thought it was, and I think he very well could be a reasonably productive part of our 2021 roster.
My gut reaction was affected by a few things. I associate Eaton with the period of White Sox extended mediocrity that preceded the rebuild. That unpleasant association was made worse by Eaton’s clubhouse reputation. I also hadn’t really followed Eaton’s career after he left the Sox, other than remembering that he suffered a significant injury not long after he was traded. I didn’t give him much thought after that and kind of assumed that his career had really dropped off thereafter, which impression was reinforced by the fact that he was never a player that came up in my fantasy baseball leagues over the years. Finally, when I made my list of free agents I would like to see targeted for RF, Eaton was literally the last name on my list, so the signing felt like a rejection of all of my better ideas.
But it’s not fair to blame Eaton for the team’s mediocrity when he was with them last. He turned in objectively good performances for the Sox year after year, and he always played hard. And even if he wasn’t liked in the clubhouse back then, I don’t think he had any similar issues in Washington, so that could have just been an incompatible mix of personalities (probably exacerbated by the team’s underperformance), and there’s a whole different set of players here now.
Then, when I looked more closely at his record, I found that he was much more productive offensively during his time with the Nationals — especially from 2017-2019 and especially against RHP — than I had thought. Yes, he had a terrible 2020 with negative WAR (as did Joe Pederson), but we all know that it was a shortened season played under very unusual circumstances, so I’m not willing to place too much weight on those numbers, especially when they were much different than 2019. Projection models for 2021 also appear to discount his 2020 numbers and expect him to produce about the same value as Rosario or JBJ and notably more value than guys like Dahl or Puig or Mazara. Yes, there are a handful of free agent options expected to perform better, but Eaton is in the same ballpark as most of the guys on my wish list.
I am concerned about his apparent defensive decline, but many of the other players that I would have preferred also have defensive issues (e.g., Rosario, Schwarber, Brantley, Ozuna, Mazara), so that’s not necessarily a deal breaker for me, especially since he doesn’t seem to have had major physical problems recently.
Also, I had recently posited on this very site that since most of the RF free agent options this year were imperfect fits, it might not be a bad idea to sign someone for one year and revisit the position next offseason. And the Eaton signing does exactly that. (So I can hold onto my dreams of signing Conforto next year!)
I am also now envisioning an Eaton/Engel platoon in RF which will help to mazimize production from both players. They both play hard, can get on base at a reasonable clip, provide some speed on the basepaths, and will hit an occasional home run. I think/hope they’ll do just fine at the back end of the batting order, which should be able to score a lot of runs regardless.
This doesn’t mean that I’m now in love with the Eaton signing, but I do think it is a notable improvement over last year and it’s certainly not the death knell of the team’s chances to contend. Maybe I’m just rationalizing to make myself feel better. But I think it’s more that I’m taking my emotions out of it and trying to look at things objectively (and perhaps a little optimistically rather than pessimistically).
Of course, I’ll feel a lot better if and when they sign a closer and/or another back-end starter and/or a DH/LF. But that’s something to (hopefully) comment about on another day.
Hahn makes a good move, then this guy shows up.
Lynn move is palatable, but still need to see Kopech, Cease, Lopez, Crochett, et al make steps forward.
Eaton not so palatable. Like LaRussa, it looks like a step backward and may very well prove to have a negative affect on this team. He already earned that the first time around. Fan reaction less than luke-warm, no?
IMO, Eaton doesn’t seem to be an improvement over Mazara and certainly not an improvement over Engel.
I’d like to see them quit going ‘backwards’ and acquire up-and-coming players that show that they’re ready for the next step. I can’t remember which web site or who posted a desire to go after Oriole RF Anthony Santander. A switch-hitter with plus power and seemingly seemingly average defense set, he originally was compared to Avi Garcia, but I think he’ll surpass that projection. He has a controllable contract and has experience in CF, but definitely is now a RF. At 26 yrs old, he seems to fit the W Sox current window. Does anyone else have an opinion on Santander?