White Sox’s history of one-year contracts works against Adam Eaton

The White Sox made the Adam Eaton signing official. He’s aboard the roster and payroll for one year and $7 million, and the framing of the acquisition is not going to sell skeptics on the motivations.

Rick Hahn’s assessment of the fit sounds sensible by itself, in terms of talent and cost …

… but paired with Bob Nightengale’s report that Michael Brantley was too expensive for them, it’s less encouraging.

“Flexibility” is not an intrinsic good, because a team always has flexibility if it never acts. After the 2018 season, Hahn said the White Sox had the flexibility to pursue Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but ultimately bailed because they wouldn’t have had that flexibility afterward. Hahn said he had the flexibility to add further after the very welcome signing of Dallas Keuchel, but that flexibility resulted in three one-year deals that all gave the White Sox sub-replacement-level production.

It’s easy to see why flexibility appeals to Hahn and Kenny Williams. Jerry Reinsdorf isn’t going to fire them, so they’ll have to deal with the fallout of any albatross, rather than pass it on to the next front office to clean up. It’s less clear what that flexibility does for fans, because the benefits of the White Sox’s one-year deals have been limited to the balance sheet.

There’s a bigger picture behind the Eaton deal that makes it all so discouraging, and Eaton’s history with the White Sox is only a part of it. Sure, his reputation precedes him for a reason. “We lost a leader in Drake” was probably the dumbest possible combination of words he could have contributed to the Adam LaRoche disaster, which took an already smoldering level of stupid to a whole new level. Eaton had the reputation of irking teammates before that, and it became easier to see artifices in otherwise banal statements for those so predisposed. Jon Greenberg wondered who still calls a manager “Skip.” I wondered who uses “salt of the earth” to describe a baseball front office. It sometimes feels like Eaton programmed his AI off the embellished quotes from pre-war sports sections, and he’s thisclose to “putting a good wallop on the apple” than “swinging the bat well.”

But that’s all besides the point, because even though he stuck his spikes in his mouth a few times with Washington, he helped them achieve the goal of the trade by winning a World Series. If Eaton ends up doing the talking for this White Sox clubhouse, other things went wrong.

* * * * * * * * *

No, the Eaton signing struck a nerve for reasons less specific to Eaton, and more specific to Hahn’s two biggest issues. Hahn hasn’t been able to find a right fielder, and he has a terrible track record with free agents who only merit one-year contracts. So, of course here comes a right fielder who only merited a one-year contract.

I’ve previously taken inventory of the ghastly free agent history of the Rick Hahn era, and it wouldn’t be as grotesque if Hahn could actually bring himself to commit to free agents. Maybe you’ll blame Williams or Reinsdorf for times Hahn’s come up short, but I’ve stopped caring to attempt delineation on credit, because they’re all pieces soldered into the same decision-making engine, and each one helps deflect blame from the other individuals in the enterprise. Acting as though Hahn has repressed genius might be self-soothing for some, but I don’t see how it changes the results.

Speaking of results, here’s an updated tally of Hahn’s track record with one-year contracts after going 0-for-3 last winter.

Table by Visualizer

(WARP is used for catchers, since Baseball Prospectus’ valuation has a longer track record of weighing receiving than the other metrics.)

Maybe there’s no such thing as a bad one-year contract, but there’s such thing as a bad batch of 20 one-year contracts. After swinging and missing on Edwin Encarnación, Gio González and Steve Cishek, Hahn has spent a total of $78.25 million on one-year deals for -4.1 wins below replacement in return.

If Eaton were a catcher, I wouldn’t complain. Hahn’s two biggest successes here, James McCann and Geovany Soto, both exceeded expectations as backup backstops, and Alex Avila would’ve been fine behind a better Plan A. McCann went on to post a terrific 2020, and now he’s on the verge of getting paid by the Mets or Angels or somebody. Good for Hahn. Good for McCann. Good for White Sox fans. That’s how it’s supposed to work, and if the White Sox replaced McCann with Curt Casali or some other unremarkable catcher on a one-year deal and promised adequate production, I’d take their word for it.

(Dioner Navarro was terrible, but the expectations won’t be outsized for the guy playing behind Yasmani Grandal.)

Anyway, filter out McCann and Soto, and that knocks the committed salaries down to $74.25 million. It also knocks down the production to -6.1 WAR. Hahn tries to anticipate bounces, but he’s only ended up with a pile of dead cats.

* * * * * * * * *

Even if Eaton didn’t bring his own baggage into the house, he’d be inheriting this. Take Encarnación, who had no reason to inspire such personal animus from White Sox fans. I still expected little, mostly because he shared some issues with previous White Sox DH failure like Yonder Alonso, from whom I expected little because he shared some issues with previous White Sox DH failure LaRoche.

In right field, Eaton follows in the staggered footsteps of Nomar Mazara, Jon Jay and Daniel Palka, all of whom flopped beyond even the most pessimistic expectations. Eaton is the most projectable right fielder the White Sox have rostered since the Sox traded Eaton away.

That could be seen as a way to praise the signing, but when Hahn has bought low, he’s received lower, so when Hahn acquires a player like Eaton, you first have to process the move for how it’s going to fail. Here, it’s easy: Eaton just turned 32, he’s coming off a .226/.285/.384 line, he dealt with a season-shortening injury for the third time in four years, which foreshadows doom for a BABIP-reliant player.

There are ways to defend the signing. Eaton is a slow starter, and the start was all the 2020 schedule afforded. His BABIP probably wouldn’t have spent an entire season around .260. His overall production was killed by going 4-for-39 against lefties, and facing lefties will be Adam Engel’s job.

Except … you could talk yourself into Mazara and Jay and Encarnación and Alonso just the same. Reflexive pessimism won the day each and every time. Here, reflexive pessimism says Eaton is either going to be unavailable, or he’s going to struggle into the summer, but Hahn will have to consider replacements well ahead of the trade deadline either way. I don’t want to make my analysis so reductive, but it gets old mining for upside, only to have the shaft collapse.

* * * * * * * * *

Right field and DH have dogged the White Sox for years. So much so, that when I looked for Hahn’s assessment of both positions, I initially copied and pasted this quote because I thought it was from September 2020, rather than when he said it in September 2019:

“I don’t think we certainly didn’t get much from an offensive standpoint out of right field or DH over the course of this season,” Hahn said. “As we sit here today, many of our young outfielders aren’t quite ready to fill that void in right field. That could well be an area we need to go outside to address.”

So much so that Hahn even poked fun at himself at the onset of the offseason for repeating himself:

He chuckled at himself acknowledging, for the second-straight year, that there wasn’t enough production from designated hitter and right field, and tried to provide some assurance that the White Sox are not just content to bank on all of their starting pitching to just get better on its own over the winter.

“If you were to identify the shopping list, you hit the nail on the head in terms of coming up with our solutions for the pitching staff as well as potentially in right field and DH.”

During the Lance Lynn Zoom call, Hahn said, “Operationally, we’re proceeding fairly normally, as if it were a normal offseason.” He was responding to a question about the pandemic affecting the finances and the speed of the market, but after sitting out of the George Springer sweepstakes and telling Nightengale that Brantley is too expensive, it’s truer than he probably imagined.

The White Sox have a mountain of cost-controlled young talent and a payroll clean of underwater contracts, and yet they’re still spending as though they have two years of James Shields on the books. Before rebuilding, the White Sox had blind spots and an inability to spend past them. If Eaton represents the best they can do in the run-up to the 2021 season, then the White Sox now have blind spots and an unwillingness to spend past them.

The latter one is worse, because it makes the intentional losing from previous seasons so pointless. The trades of Eaton, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana were excellent and are beyond reproach, but if avoiding “unnecessary” payroll commitments for multiple seasons didn’t generate the opportunity to super-solve a remaining gap, then all it did was create a couple top-five draft picks for a team that relies on them a little too much due to their troubles producing prospects from later selections.

There’s a lot of winter left, so Hahn can eliminate these concerns in one or two moves. The objections to Eaton will look like wasted energy if the White Sox address DH with a Brantley or Marcell Ozuna type. Then again, if Reinsdorf’s preferred reporter is saying Brantley wants too much money, it’s fair to guess that further buy-low deals are to come, at least at their greatest positions of need. That leaves their fans to cross fingers that Hahn has finally figured out how to do better in that department, with eight years of evidence saying that such hope will need to be earned.

(Photo by KeithAllisonPhoto.com)

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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karkovice squad

There are ways to defend the signing. Eaton is a slow starter, and the start was all the 2020 schedule afforded. His BABIP probably wouldn’t have spent an entire season around .260. His overall production was killed by going 4-for-39 against lefties, and facing lefties will be Adam Engel’s job.

It’s just too easy to poke holes in the defense. His production against righties has barely been better than average since 2018. Why spend $8.5m on the chance he can time travel instead of committing a bit more to Eddie Rosario who actually has the skill they’re looking for at the position?

This stinks of them getting stuck on a “we must do something, this is something” solution after their arbitrary spending restrictions made them move on from Brantley and priced them out of Springer’s market from the get go.

Last edited 1 year ago by karkovice squad
35Shields

I think this is the thing that makes the Eaton signing hard to accept. Even if the Sox were priced out of more expensive options (which they shouldn’t have been, but whatever), events seemed to conspire to make “lefty corner OF” a role that wouldn’t have been hard to fill.

  • Pederson was expected to get between $18m/2 (MLBTR), $20m/2 (FG).
  • JBJ was expected to get between $16m/2 (MLBTR), $20m/2 (FG).
  • Rosario was expected to get between $8.6-12.9m in arb
  • Schwarber was expected to get between $7.01-9.3m in arb

Sure, you could nitpick most of these (Schwarber hasn’t played RF, Rosario and JBJ are both projected by Steamer for roughly the same WAR as Eaton, JBJ might want to be a CF).

But there’s so little difference between what paying them would have cost and what they gave Eaton. Like we’re talking a ~$2m difference in 2020 payroll.

As Cirensica

I wouldn’t be surprised if Rosario gets a contract for less what Eaton got.

Buehrlesque

I’m not head-over-heels for the Eaton signing either, but the Sox needed a RF (preferably who bats lefty), and the only other guy on this list who meets that criteria is Pederson. Brantley, Rosario and Schwarber are LF/DHs. They could and should all still be in play for that role, but they wouldn’t fit in RF. (JBJ could do it, I guess, but he might be keen on staying in CF.)

I hate the cliché of “This move makes sense in the context of setting up another move,” because as we’ve seen time and time again, the Sox just don’t have the follow through to make the complementary moves happen. But that theoretically could be true in this case. Eaton was one of only a couple of FAs that fit the bill in RF. Not engaging on Springer sucks, and you could argue Pederson would’ve been a better choice. Otherwise, Eaton can get it done if it allows for one of the LF/DHs, another SP and RP.

35Shields

Eaton was one of only a couple of FAs that fit the bill in RF. Not engaging on Springer sucks, and you could argue Pederson would’ve been a better choice. Otherwise, Eaton can get it done if it allows for one of the LF/DHs, another SP and RP.

Well said. I totally agree with this. If truly do use the flexibility to address those positions too, then I will end up being very okay with this move.

MrStealYoBase

we’re talking a ~$2m difference in 2020 payroll

And they jumped the market and probably paid Eaton $2-3M more than they would have had to if they had waited until February.

It’s a shoestring upgrade, but like, not even a smart one if you are trying to save money.

denman

I wholeheartedly agree that Pederson, JBJ and especially Rosario and Schwarber could all have been signed for roughly what they shelled out for Eaton. I take that as indication that the Sox, rightly or wrongly, opted for Eaton for baseball reasons rather than financial ones. TLR strongly believes in “putting the ball in play” as opposed to the strikeout or HR approach manifest by Pederson and Schwarber. It is easy to argue that Eaton wasn’t the “best” RF option available but a batting order with Eaton and Madrigal in the eighth and ninth spots has a different feel than one that plugs a low OBP, defensively suspect power hitter into the 7th or 8th spot. If Hahn is going for offensive versatility against right-handed pitching, I don’t see how Brantley (with his .354 career OBP) isn’t a prime target.

jhomeslice

The Sox always opt for financial reasons over baseball reasons. There is no way Rosario will cost less than Eaton, that would be insane. Rosario is a real player, with 30 homers/109 rbi’s a couple years ago, same homers/rbi’s as Eloy last year. Eaton is not close to that kind of production, never has been, never will be. Defense, to offset that big a difference in production, is such a weak argument that it is beyond words. The Sox went for quick and cheap, and they will get what they paid for.

Trooper Galactus

Less? No. Roughly as much? Yeah, though Rosario might require a multi-year commitment. I mean, the Twins could have kept him for, what, about $11 million? Basically, the White Sox were unwilling to pay him roughly what they gave Colome last year.

HallofFrank

The White Sox are the only team I know whose dead weight contracts come from their most recent signings.

Greg Nix

Hahn tries to anticipate bounces, but he’s only ended up with a pile of dead cats.

I’m thinking they should just cut out the middleman from now on.comment image

As Cirensica

Are those cats dead? So insensitive. I hope they are sleeping. I don’t come here to see dead cat pictures.

Greg Nix

Chill out, they’re sleeping.

So that’s where I left my pile of cats. from pics

Last edited 1 year ago by Greg Nix
As Cirensica

Thanks

HallofFrank

I would have liked to see an A. J. Hinch signature there.

Gutteridge70

Hmmm Very clever photo Mr. Nix. Those cats are obviously not dead otherwise you would have one of the feared organizations in US PETA calling for Sox Machine to be banned. Because the cats are not dead they will not bounce. Ergo either will Adam Eaton. Subtle I admire and agree with your logic….

denny

Anthony Santander

soxfan

There’s a lot of winter left, so Hahn can eliminate these concerns in one or two moves.

One more I’d love to see (but which is probably as likely as getting Springer) would be resigning McCann. I find it harder to believe that Eaton will live up to his modest contract than that McCann would live up to the contract NY Post is reporting for McCann (4 years for $36-48M). He can get 70 starts or so at catcher, DH if necessary, and give Grandal the opportunity to give Abreu a day off here or there. I’d rather pay $10M/year to McCann for 300 ABs than pay Eaton $7M for 400 ABs.

Right Size Wrong Shape

The McCann signing turned out great, but I’m not sure I’m signing up for 4 more years at big money when I already have a really good catcher.

John SF

I say can’t have too much of a good thing, let’s just sign Realmuto!

We can trade Vaughn for a cost controlled starter like Snell / Marquez, and then just let them DH / catch the next several years together.

I’m joking of course, but only a little.

Last edited 1 year ago by John SF
soxfan

I guess my point relies on the definition of “big money” and whether or not the Sox actually intend to win a title this year.

I know you can’t pay $28M for each position, but when you’ve got a platoon that can give you something like 5 WAR it doesn’t seem like that much of a premium, whether you’re considering the value of a win at $7-8M or considering there’s at least a few 5ish WAR players than make more than $28M.

As a long-term investment, you’re right. You don’t need two big money catchers. But if this is the year – if you’re talking a guy like LaRussa out of retirement, if you’re trading future value Dunning for rental Lynn – if this is the year to push your chips in the pot, then overpaying McCann seems like a safe choice with a fair bit of upside that manages even more downside. A team making a run at the title shouldn’t have Collins one wrist injury away from being their starting catcher.

roke1960

No team, not even the Dodgers or Yankees, are going to give a backup catcher 4 years, $35-40 million. That’s just bad use of resources. Adding Curt Casali or any one of the many backup catchers available for 1 year, $5 mil or less is the prudent decision. plus McCann clearly wants to be the #1 guy. He will not be that here.

John SF

Again, back to my Realmuto “joke,” I actually think that in 3-5 years we’re going to be seeing teams like the Yankees & Dodgers (with the DH) pay catchers that kind of money where they are both stars.

The Sox hit 5 WAR from their catchers in 60 games this year, which I think helped show the capacity of that kind of tandem.

“Backup catcher” being a sub-replacement player hasn’t worked for the big teams that try it b/c catchers get injured far too easily and are so variable.

Most teams have solved this issue by having the backup either be a quality veteran toward the end of their career, or a quality rookie still getting ready. Or they sign a platoon lefty catcher like Avila.

But catchers are increasingly at premium as the modern game evolves. (Future Robot umps notwithstanding). And attempting lefty/righty platoon at catcher has failed more often than not (as the sox saw in 2016) partially because it’s a large investment to make in some medium-quality players which is always risky, and partially because it’s hard to split your own pitching staff that way.

I doubt any team will ever pay for a duo as good as Realmuto and; Grandal would be, but I do think we will see teams adding a player at a cost similar to what the Mets are about to pay McCann, & pairing him with a catcher as good as Yaz.

Last edited 1 year ago by John SF
texag10

I’m more concerned that Hahn thought Brantley was the best solution to RF than the fact that we might not want to spend the required dollars.

denman

I’m guessing that the Sox never looked a Brantley as a possible everyday right-fielder. So I continue to hope someone was using Nightengale to mislead other bidders for Brantley.

shaggy65

Looks like the Sox emerge largely unaffected by the Rule 5 draft. No players were lost or gained in the major league portion.

In the minor league phase of the draft we lost AJ Puckett who I genuinely forgot about–I’m not sure he’s pitched in the last 3 years. We drafted a young reliever named Martin Carrasco away from the Padres. Normally the Sox have been pretty decent at their minor league Rule 5 picks, so here’s hoping Martin is a gem!

knoxfire30

Wow, great article didn’t think I could feel much worse about the Eaton move or the sox cheapness.

Amar

I am truly sorry you had to compile that list Jim. Ouch.

I do wonder how Kenny did with 1-year contracts over the course of his tenure as GM? Perhaps I am mistaken, but I felt he had just as many hits as misses.

Jason.Wade17

The one year deals listed in and of themselves aren’t terrible deals if you go down that list. The problem is that they are used as Plan A, with absolutely nothing as Plan B. The major problem is these guys are forced to get 300+ AB’s because there is no depth.

Adam Eaton the baseball player is fine and don’t hate the signing from a baseball perspective. (Adam Eaton the person makes me not like it, but regardless).

The problem is that there are still too many at bats to go around next year to below replacement level hitters.

karkovice squad

That feeling when your team would have been better off signing Jason Heyward knowing how badly he’d have underperformed his contract instead of whatever it was the thought they were trying to do.

MarketMaker

If I was Hahn, I’d have reached out to the Cubs about Heyward this offseason. I can’t imagine they’d want to eat too much of that contract, but maybe?

Soxfan2

You’d think an Owner that doesn’t like to spend big money would want a GM that is good at shrewd acquisitions. Then you at least have an excuse to not sign a big free agent. “We would spend $100M+ on a player but these 1 year deals have been working out great for us”. Which is why it’s so maddening they keep shopping from the bargain bin. Could have signed 1 really good player for $80M, not ten bad players that have offered little to not return.

Eagle Bones

This is like the episode of the Simpsons where Santa’s Little Helper and his lady friend have the litter of puppies. Hahn is Homer is sitting on the couch trying to eat a bag of pork rinds, but the dogs keep stealing them. “This time… doh!”

denman

Nightengale’s comment seems really odd. According to his baseball reference page, the 9 games Brantley played right-field in 2019 were the only times he played the position. Similary, Rosario has played right in 67 games and often under circumstances that would qualify as his being “forced” into the position.. If the Sox opted for Eaton over either of these other two, I would think that the primary reason would be experience at the position. I would especially expect that JR’s “mouthpiece” would be emphasize the importance of Eaton having played the position in almost 400 game and having done so for a world champion team. That Nightengale would site Brantley as “too cost-prohibitive” I can only hope is a bit of misdirection designed to cover the fact that the Sox are actively pursuing Brantley for DH.

To Err is Herrmann

I did not like this move, but I guess we have to wait to see what the Pale Hose do at DH and closer. However, when your Bounce Back Rate hovers between 5 and 10 percent, not good. But I have to wonder is this what Tony LaRussa came out of a decade-long retirement from managing for? To possibly win the Wild Card Series round?

Eagle Bones

When do they award the trophy for most team payroll flexibility? I’m very much here for that.

dwjm3

That award is given out by Jerry’s bank and he wins it every year.

Buehrlesque

The Sox’ track record with one-year deals is pretty horrific. That said, I’d like to see what league wide success rate is with one-year deals. It’s probably pretty bad too because players who are forced to settled for one-year deals are usually… not very good at baseball.

MrStealYoBase

I don’t know what the overall hit rate is, but some guys over the past few years who have settled for one year deals (just off the top of my head):

-Yasmani Grandal
-Dallas Keuchel
-Josh Donaldson
-Marcell Ozuna
-Mike Moustakas
-Lance Lynn
-Blake Trenien
-Nelson Cruz
-Brian Dozier
-Jonathon Schoop
-Didi Gregorious

It’s not like there aren’t good players to be had on one year deals, it’s that Hahn is incapable of finding them/Jerry is unwilling to spend at a level to bring in a guy like Josh Donaldson for $23M/1 year, despite the risk/reward being pretty awesome.

karkovice squad

Like half those guys had draft pick compensation attached which is obviously a no-go for the team.

MrStealYoBase

Pnoles (I think) has made some convincing arguments that, based on this teams history with second round picks, that shouldn’t be a deterrent

Eagle Bones

Not to speak for kark, but I don’t think he meant it should have been. Only that it probably was (and is).

35Shields

(just off the top of my head)

Hello availability bias, my name’s 35Shields

roke1960

I know most of you on here hate the Eaton deal, but the consensus I have been reading is that the Sox have helped themselves at 2 very important positions of need this week. Bleacher Report has the Sox as the class of the AL right now, and ranked number 2 in the entire major leagues. A roundtable discussion on CBS Sports had all 5 saying the White Sox are the favorites in the AL Central right now. Of course the offseason isn’t over, but it sounds like the Twins are playing cheap with Nelson Cruz and have to add 2 spots in the rotation and about 4 in the bullpen. Plus replace Eddie Rosario and Marwin Gonzalez. We all know the Indians will trade Francisco Lindor and have already lost Santana, and will likely make no big additions. Even the Yankees are balking so far at signing LeMahieu and are likely to let Tanaka walk.
Adding Eaton to bat at the top of the order would not be a good addition, but he will be hitting 8th against righties, with Engel likely taking most of the ABs against lefties. This is a guy who hit at the top of the order for the 2019 World Champs. I really like having a guy with speed hitting in front of Madrigal. Using the hit-and-run with Madrigal will allow him to use his best asset, bat-to-ball skills, to create problems for a defense. Tony has in the past tended to be more aggressive on the bases- now he will have Robert, Eaton, Madrigal, Timmy and Yoan consecutively in the order (7th-2nd). That is a ton of speed.
If the Sox are done adding, then this has not been a very good offseason. But it sounds like they are in on Hendriks and Brantley and will likely add another starter for the back end of the rotation. Giolito-Keuchel-Lynn is one of the best 1-2-3 in the AL right now. Adding another starter, a decent DH/LF (Brantley/Rosario/Schwarber/Pederson), and maybe even a closer will make this team downright dangerous. They were aggressive in adding Lynn when almost every other team seems to be sitting on their hands. Let’s wait to see how the rest of the offseason plays out before making judgments. I like what they’ve done so far.

denman

I understand the negative response to signing Eaton. I was hoping they’d go with Rosario in right and Brantley for DH. If they do sign Brantley for DH, I can readily accept that they preferred to go with a proven right-fielder with World Series experience who offers more in-game options than would the older, less talented version of Eloy that Rosario would be in right. It looks like it might be a buyers market for closers with Hand, Colome, Hendriks, and others all looking to be available inexpensively. Hahn, in the introducing Eaton conference alluded to staying in-house for a closer and picking up additional relief help at the deadline. I take that to mean he’s actively pursuing a closer. I also believe they’re pursuing Brantley. We’ll see.

Eagle Bones

Bleacher report rankings? Are we that desperate?

HallofFrank

The frustration is not necessarily “the Sox signed Adam Eaton” but “the Sox signed Adam Eaton because they didn’t want to pay the 5 or so options who were better than Eaton.”

We endured the “save money now” part of the rebuild with the thought that the “spend money later” part would come. The time to spend is now (if not before now). The opportunity is there. But the Sox don’t seem to be interested.

lifelongjd

I’m not sure there 5 better options than Eaton. Springer yes. But Brantley, Pederson, & Rosario all have their own negatives.

35Shields

Of course they have their negatives. Players that don’t have negatives get nine-figure contracts.

roke1960

Who are the better RF options than Eaton? Obviously, Springer is clearly head and shoulders above everyone else. But Brantley, Rosario and Schwarber are below average left fielders. I would not put them in right. Pederson is probably a better option, but has negatives just like Eaton. Again, Hahn has strongly hinted they are not done yet. They could still add one of those 4 for the LF/DH opening.

metasox

If the Sox want to sign Schwarber, then Pederson might make less sense – two hitters limited to hitting right handers (though Eaton is somewhat similarly limited). Otherwise, he seems like a better option for around the same money. And that is considering likely health as part of the equation. If the Sox wanted to go cheaper, they could have gone with Dahl. Less money, more upside, same considerations whether he can avoid injuries. Then they could deploy savings elsewhere. If the Sox just wanted to go with nothing special, they could have stuck with Mazara who Menechino was already working with. No, there may not have been really obvious alternatives. But Eaton at around 8 mil just feels like a strange compromise.

Last edited 1 year ago by metasox
HallofFrank

Springer, Rosario, Brantley, Pederson, JBJ are above Eaton. There may be a couple others who are debatable, even. I’m not saying those players don’t have flaws, too, and you don’t have to squint *that* hard to see Eaton being better than a few of those guys, but there just is a gap between them and Eaton in terms of production.

shaggy65

While I have my reservations, I very much like that Eaton gives our offense variety. Some pitchers are susceptible to power bats, some to contact guys, and some to guys who take walks. Some teams have great pitching but not great defense.

The Sox have proven that they can dominate below average pitching, but I think Eaton helps us take the next step and be able to beat good pitching in several ways. He’s not the best bat for a right fielder, but he’s pretty good for #8 in the batting order.

Now all we’re missing is the left-handed DH who crushes righties. There are several options out there; hopefully Rick is still shopping.

lifelongjd

The list is an ugly one for sure, but one year contracts are designed that way. Up until 2017, I don’t see many guys who would have been relied upon to deliver except for fringe roster roles (except in 2016 Navarro and A. Jackson, who looked decent until injury). The second half of the list represents a time when the goal wasn’t winning and the players were more filler than anything.
The outlay for Eaton is fairly significant and is the second most behind EE (which was a disaster), so the message is he’s expected to be a contributor on an up and coming team. The risk is high, but so is the reward. If he returns to even 80% of what he was, it’s a pretty good value, especially if there is a 60/40 platoon planned with Engel.
Not a huge fan of the signing overall. Would have loved Springer but my guess is he’s on his way to a mega deal with Toronto or NY. I don’t see much difference between Eaton, Brantley or Joc Pedersonnto be that upset about it.

PopeDonnPall

I like the Eaton signing if for no other reaon than he won’t stare at a fastball down the middle then skip off to the dugout with a “Yep, you aced me!” hat tip that was a Nomar trademark.

tommytwonines

Jon Greenberg wondered who still calls a manager “Skip.”

Dallas Keuchel said in a recent interview that he will probably call LaRussa “Skip” or LaRue. Or maybe just HOF.

Last edited 1 year ago by tommytwonines
Eagle Bones

Who the hell down voted Jim? I had to up vote this just to get it back to neutral. Isn’t there something about that in the SoxMachine bylaws?

Oddvark

I downvoted the comment. It seemed like an out-of-left-field comment that was putting down a contributor’s factual observation made in reponse to someone else making fun of Adam Eaton’s referring to a manager as “Skip”. was in no way praising or really making any comment about Tony La Russa, so @Jim’s response felt way off to me in that context.

And I guess I didn’t realize that I wasn’t allowed to dislike a comment of Jim’s. Upvoting his comment just so he doesn’t have a negative mark sounds like something out of the MAGA playbook. But what do I know. I’m obviously just a shill for Bob Nightengale?!?

Eagle Bones

Not to speak for Jim, but I didn’t read his comment as being a dig at the OP at all. The only reason I said something was because it caught me so off guard. The next time Jim says something objectionable (whether here or on another site that shall not be named) will probably be the first.

tommytwonines

Thank you, Oddvark .

My comment had nothing to do with LaRussa, as you said. Ballplayers still say “Skipper” that’s all. Don’t call the manager “Coach”.

ChiTownTrojan

Where are you getting that McCann had 1 WAR in 2019? FanGraphs has him at 2.3 and Baseball Reference at 3.7.

MarketMaker

WARP for catchers.

StockroomSnail

Urge to dour… rising

jhomeslice

Lets look at the one year deals the Sox got a year ago. Encarnacion, Mazara, Cishek, Gio Gonzalez. How did they work out?

Eaton is not a “going for it” or win-now move, period. It’s the type of move that is the reason why aside from winning the lottery getting Jordan, Reinsdorf has managed to bring 1 championship to Chicago from 80 years of team ownership. It’s why the Bulls have not had a single top tier player sign with them since Jordan. Signing Eaton while there are much better players available is a move you make if you are trying to hold on to every last dollar. They were below .500 last year against RHP, and Eaton is not a big enough player to change that much even if he does half way decent. They have 45M coming off the payroll, and have spent 15M on two guys who won’t be with the team beyond 2021. This is the perfect time for them to add core pieces to set them up to have multiple tries at a World Series the next 4 years, and so far they have not spent a single dollar this offseason on anyone beyond 2021. They will be looking for another starter and rightfielder again next winter. That’s not an ownership that deserves accolades, or a loyal fan base, I’m sorry.

The Bulls are worth almost 200 times what Reinsdorf paid for them in 1985. Does anybody get the picture? Reinsdorf is not just cheap, he is the superhero of cheapness! That’s why the Sox will likely be a playoff contender the next 3 years or so, but mediocre among playoff teams. Because they won’t spend what it takes to make a very good team great.