The Nationals have activated outfielder Adam Eaton from the 60-day disabled list, per a team announcement. In corresponding moves, the Nationals released outfielder Rafael Bautista and optioned right-hander Wander Suero to Triple-A.
Eaton hasn’t played since April 8 because of a right ankle issue, one which required surgery in early May, thus continuing an injury-plagued tenure in Washington for the 29-year-old. Since the Nationals acquired Eaton from the White Sox in a December 2016 blockbuster, he has played in just 31 of a possible 223 regular-season games. Eaton missed all but 23 games last season after tearing both his left ACL and meniscus at the end of April.
When Eaton has been healthy enough to take the field for the Nationals, he has continued to post the type of strong production he offered in Chicago from 2014-16. Across 140 plate appearances since last year, the lefty-swinger has slashed .308/.400/.508 with four home runs and nearly as many walks (17) as strikeouts (20). He’ll now rejoin a crowded outfield in D.C. that also consists of right fielder Bryce Harper, stunningly great 19-year-old left fielder Juan Soto, center fielder Michael Taylor and reserve Brian Goodwin.
It’s unclear how the Nats will divvy up playing time among their outfielders, though Soto and Taylor do have minor league options remaining. Soto has perhaps been too effective to demote, however, having batted .339/.431/.571 with three homers, nine walks and 10 strikeouts in the first 65 PAs of his career.
Bautista, 25, had been occupying a spot on Washington’s 40-man roster, but a serious knee injury derailed his season and, barring a re-signing, his career with the franchise. He tore the ACL, LCL and meniscus in his left knee while playing with Triple-A Syracuse three weeks ago. Bautista had been a quality prospect before then, though, as Baseball America (15th), FanGraphs (16th) and MLB.com (19th) each placed him among the Nationals’ top 20 farmhands in recent months.