White Sox taking a run at the title by bringing back Adam Eaton

OF Adam Eaton rejoining the Chicago White Sox on a one-year free agent deal

The Chicago White Sox are proving they’re not shy about making the first big splashes of the offseason.

Less than 12 hours after trading for starting pitcher Lance Lynn, the White Sox have reportedly reached an agreement to bring outfielder Adam Eaton back to the South Side on a one-year, $7 million contract. The deal, first reported by Chuck Garfien of NBC Sports Chicago, includes an $8.5 million club option for 2022.

Eaton played three seasons with the White Sox from 2014-16 before being dealt to the Washington Nationals in December 2016 in a deal that included current White Sox ace Lucas Giolito. He hit .279 over four seasons with the Nationals and ranked in the top-10 in the league in OPS among outfielders from 2017-19. Eaton was also a postseason star in 2019, with eight hits, two home runs, and six RBI in the Nationals’ seven-game World Series win over the Astros.

But Eaton, who turned 32 on Sunday, went through an injury-plagued 2020 season and missed the final 13 games after fracturing his finger on a bunt attempt. He appeared in more than 100 games just once since leaving the White Sox. The Nationals declined his $10.5 million option at the start of the offseason.

In his second go-around with the White Sox, Eaton will be playing in the outfield alongside two young players on the verge of stardom. Eloy Jimenez is just 24 and finished fourth in the Majors among left fielders last season with 14 home runs and a .891 OPS in his second big league season. Luis Robert, 23, was well on his way to winning AL Rookie of the Year honors before ending the season batting .137 over his last 15 games with no extra-base hits.

The emergence of Jimenez and Robert allowed the White Sox to snap a 12-year postseason drought in 2020. It was in right field, though, that General Manager Rick Hahn believed they needed improvement and cut ties with Nomar Mazara, who hit just one home run in his only season with the White Sox. Mazara started 38 of the White Sox last 49 games in right field. From that time, the club ranked last in the Majors at the position in home runs and 23rd in OPS.

Coming off their first winning season since 2012 and their best winning percentage in 26 years, the White Sox believe their time is now. Eaton is only signed for one year; Lynn, their other offseason acquisition, also becomes a free agent after the 2021 season. They also hired a three-time World Series champion manager in Tony La Russa, who is 76 and can’t be expected to stay around for long.

Hahn and the rest of the White Sox front office aren’t preparing for some distant future, cutting payroll amidst the financial insecurity facing other clubs. They are trying to contend right now, and are setting the stage for a run at the World Series in 2021 by bringing in two players and a manager who already have rings on their fingers.

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