Eaton signed a one-year, $8MM deal with the White Sox over the offseason. He’d generally been a solid performer over his previous four seasons with the Nationals, but it was still a bit of a curious decision given Eaton’s underwhelming 2020 campaign. The left-handed hitter slashed just .226/.285/.384 across 176 plate appearances with Washington last season.
Obviously, the White Sox front office expected he’d be able to bounce back offensively, but that hasn’t yet proven to be the case. While Eaton got off to a strong start to his (second) White Sox tenure, he tailed off rather quickly and has ultimately managed similarly disappointing results as he did last year. He took 219 trips to the dish with Chicago this season, managing just a .201/.298/.344 line with five home runs. Eaton has punched out in a career-worst 25.1% of his plate appearances, his first season with a strikeout percentage higher than the league average. That’s a concerning development for a player whose peak seasons were built upon his ability to put the ball in play to all fields and hit for high batting averages.
The Sox designated Eaton for assignment and granted him his unconditional release earlier this week. They’ll remain on the hook for the bulk of his salary, with the Angels paying Eaton only the league minimum from here on out (just less than $250K after prorating). It’s a no-risk roll of the dice for an Angels team that has had something of a revolving door in right field over the course of the year.
Taylor Ward has played quite well of late and likely has the inside track to the job. Left fielder Justin Upton is currently on the injured list, though, and Eaton’s lefty bat can offer a complement to the series of right-handed hitters (Ward, Upton, Phil Gosselin, Juan Lagares) the club has on hand as corner outfield options. Eaton has a more respectable .235/.316/.404 line against right-handed pitching over the past two seasons, so there’s reason to think he could still offer some value in a platoon role.
Peters hasn’t appeared in the majors this year, spending the campaign at Triple-A Salt Lake. The 28-year-old has tossed 41 1/3 frames of 4.35 ERA ball in that hitter-friendly environment. Peters’ strikeout and walk numbers in Triple-A (26.8% and 7.3%, respectively) are quite strong, but he’s also given up an alarming twelve home runs in eight starts. He has seen big league action with the Marlins and Angels between 2017-20, tossing 132 2/3 innings of 5.83 ERA/5.22 SIERA ball. The Angels will have a week to trade Peters or expose him to waivers.
Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com was first to report Eaton’s deal was a major league contract.