- The Mets were considering Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough for bench coach after he impressed in his managerial interview with New York, but a hiring doesn’t seem likely to come to fruition. Jon Heyman of the MLB Network tweets that New York brass doesn’t believe McCullough would leave Los Angeles for a coaching position elsewhere. Instead, it seems he’s lined up to return for a second season on Dave Roberts’ staff. Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News reported yesterday that the Mets were looking into a potential “headline-grabbing hire” for bench coach.
- The Mets already made a notable coaching move this morning, tabbing longtime big league third baseman Eric Chávez as hitting coach. Chávez had accepted a position as one of two Yankees assistant hitting coaches just a few weeks ago, leaving the Bronx club with an unanticipated vacancy on staff. Lindsey Adler of the Athletic reports (on Twitter) that the Yankees do plan to replace Chávez this offseason. That aligns with general manager Brian Cashman’s stated wish to enter the season with three hitting instructors on staff. Dillon Lawson is slated to be the team’s lead hitting coach, with Casey Dykes lined up for an assistant role.
- Though the club has confirmed that Ray Montgomery will make the unusual transition from front office to bench coach on Joe Maddon’s staff, the Angels have not yet announced assignments for either former bench coach Mike Gallego (who will remain on the staff) or newcomers Phil Nevin, Benji Gil, and Bill Haselman (per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register). This may be due to the club’s pursuit of Adam Eaton for its staff should he choose to retire — which, given that he remains an active member of the MLBPA, cannot be completed during the lockout.
- The Mets announced their full slate of minor league coaches Thursday, including new managers at all four affiliates: former Cubs farmhand Kevin Boles at Triple-A Syracuse; journeyman infielder Reid Brignac at Double-A Binghamton; former Expos, Red Sox, and (briefly) Mets shortstop Luis Rivera at High-A Brooklyn; and former Mets catching instructor Robbie Robinson at Low-A St. Lucie. A full list of Mets minor league coaches, compiled by SNY contributor Jacob Resnick, can be found here.
- The Reds have hired sixteen-year big-league veteran Juan Samuel as a minor league hitting instructor, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, though his precise role has not yet been announced. Since retiring, the three-time All-Star has held a number of positions, including as a major league base coach and, briefly, as interim manager of the Orioles following the 2010 mid-season firing of Dave Trembley. In addition to his long and productive playing career, Samuel is remembered as the Mets’ return in the 1989 deal that sent Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell, cornerstones of the 1986 World Series champs, to the Phillies.
- The Rangers announced two members of their 2022 big-league coaching staff, including the promotion of former journeyman catcher, advanced scout, and so-called “coordinator of run prevention” Brett Hayes to bullpen coach and the hiring of former Jays farmhand and Dodgers minor league hitting instructor Seth Conner as assistant hitting coach. Both will join Chris Woodward’s staff for a season the Rangers hope will represent a major step forward in the rebuilding process following the club’s recent big-ticket signings of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Jon Gray.
About a year ago, the White Sox signed Adam Eaton to a one-year, $7MM deal to be their right fielder. By July, Eaton had been designated for assignment. The Angels picked him up for the league minimum, and he lasted about a month with them before being released. The 33-year-old Eaton is “at least considering retirement,” according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, in part because the Angels discussed a coaching position with him prior to the lockout. However, MLB’s stance is that Eaton is locked out from discussing employment as a coach.
Minor league free agents like Jake Bauers – even with plenty of MLB time this year – have been able to sign minor league contracts during the lockout. Though he was released by the Angels on August 20th, Eaton become a free agent via unconditional release waivers, and is therefore covered by the lockout. That means Eaton is unable to sign with a team as a coach or a player. “The union does not necessarily agree” that Eaton should be locked out, according to Rosenthal.
Rosenthal has more on the Angels’ coaching staff, including their addition of Bill Haselman as a catching instructor. Haselman had a 13-year MLB career spanning 1990-2003. Phil Nevin and Benji Gil are also known to have roles on Joe Maddon’s staff.
This will be Eaton’s second time being designated for assignment this season, after being let go by the White Sox in July. The club and the outfielder had reunited in the offseason, agreeing to a one-year, $8MM contract. Unfortunately, the lefty wasn’t able to produce enough to hold onto a roster spot with the Pale Hose, hitting .201/.298/.344 over 219 plate appearances, a wRC+ of 82.
A few days after being released, he signed on with the Angels, who tried to use Eaton to patch over the holes in their outfield created by injuries to Dexter Fowler, Mike Trout and Justin Upton. But Eaton’s numbers have only trended downward, a line of .200/.232/.277, producing a wRC+ of 39 since coming to Los Angeles. With the return of Upton and the team giving more playing time to up-and-coming prospects like Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell, Eaton has no found himself squeezed out.
With the White Sox still on the hook for the bulk of his salary, some other club could give Eaton a chance with no financial risk, only having to pay him the prorated league minimum.
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.
The White Sox announced Monday morning that outfielder Adam Eaton has been granted his unconditional release. He’s now a free agent available to any other team for the prorated league minimum.
Eaton, 32, returned to Chicago on a one-year, $7MM contract this past winter after spending four years with the Nationals and winning a World Series there. He’d struggled through a tough showing during last summer’s shortened 60-game schedule, but Eaton was productive in his other three years with the Nats, hitting .288/.377/.425 in 1133 plate appearances from 2017-19. The Eaton reunion wasn’t the big outfield splash for which ChiSox fans were pining early in the offseason, but it was a reasonable enough roll of the dice at an affordable price considering Eaton’s generally strong track record.
Things (obviously) didn’t go according to plan for either Eaton or the White Sox, however. While he got out to a great start in the season’s first 15 games (.268/.379/.482 in 66 plate appearances), Eaton’s production cratered not long after. From April 20 through the time he was designated for assignment on July 7, he mustered only a .173/.262/.286 batting line with a sky-high (by his standards) 27.4 percent strikeout rate; entering the season, Eaton carried a career 16.8 percent punchout rate and had never fanned in more than 19 percent of his plate appearances during a single season.
While Eaton’s contract contained an $8.5MM club option for the 2022 campaign (which carries a $1MM buyout), that option buyout is now the responsibility of the White Sox, along with the remaining $3.1MM on Eaton’s contract. He’ll again be a free agent at season’s end. A new team that signs him will owe him the prorated league minimum — about $252K from now to season’s end. That sum would be subtracted from the roughly $4.1MM the Sox still owe him.
As for the White Sox, they’ll continue leaning on an outfield mix that currently features Brian Goodwin, Billy Hamilton, Adam Engel, Gavin Sheets, Andrew Vaughn and Leury Garcia. Slugger Eloy Jimenez, however, will have his minor league rehab assignment transferred to Triple-A Charlotte tomorrow, according to the team, further signaling that his return isn’t too far off.
Jimenez began his rehab assignment with Class-A Advanced on Friday and can be on rehab for up to 30 days — or until the Sox deem him ready for a big league return. He’s been out for the entire season so far after rupturing a pectoral tendon during Spring Training and undergoing subsequent surgery. Center fielder Luis Robert, meanwhile, is still expected back later this summer after suffering a Grade 3 strain of his hip flexor at the end of April. The Sox could still pursue outfield upgrades in the 18 days leading up to the trade deadline, but the positive progress of Jimenez can only make them feel a bit better about their internal outlook.
The White Sox have designated outfielder Adam Eaton for assignment, the team announced. The move clears a roster space for another outfielder in Adam Engel, who was activated off the 10-day injured list.
Eaton only just returned from the IL himself earlier this week, after missing two weeks with a hamstring strain. However, the White Sox had clearly seen enough from Eaton after he hit only .201/.298/.344 over 219 plate appearances, marking his second straight year of subpar offensive production after a similarly lackluster season with the Nationals in 2020.
That said, it still counts as a bit of a surprise to see the White Sox so abruptly cut ties with Eaton, in part because of the team is still so shorthanded in the outfield with Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez both still on the injured list. Until those stars return (or unless the Sox make a notable trade deadline addition), Chicago will go with a mix of Engel, Andrew Vaughn, Brian Goodwin, Gavin Sheets, Billy Hamilton, and utilitymen Leury Garcia and Danny Mendick as their outfield options.
Beyond the immediate on-field impact, the Sox will now almost surely have to eat the remainder of Eaton’s contract. The outfielder inked a one-year deal worth $8MM in guaranteed money ($7MM salary, $1MM buyout of an $8.5MM club option for 2022) during the offseason, and while Eaton didn’t play well in 2020, it wasn’t a bad investment for the White Sox to make considering his above-average play over the majority of this career. Since it seems quite unlikely that another team will claim Eaton off DFA waivers and absorb the rest of his salary, Chicago’s front office will have to chalk the signing up as a misfire.
While many fans wished for a more substantive outfield addition last winter, the club’s plan of having Robert, Jimenez, and an Eaton/Engel platoon in the outfield (with Vaughn in the wings as an outfield/first base/DH candidate) seemed at least decent on paper, though injuries quickly altered the situation. The White Sox have still build a big lead in the AL Central even despite all their injury woes, but the outfield clearly seems like an area of need heading into the trade deadline.
Since another team would only have to pay Eaton the prorated minimum salary, it seems probable that the veteran will land somewhere else once he clears DFA waivers and is cut loose by the White Sox. Speculatively, a return to Washington might not be out of the question, as the Nationals are in need of outfield help with Kyle Schwarber sidelined by a hamstring injury.
11:38am: The White Sox announced that they have indeed recalled Burger from Triple-A Charlotte. Chicago has also reinstated Adam Eaton from the injured list. In a pair of corresponding roster moves, they’ve optioned righty Zack Burdi and, most notably, designated hitter Yermin Mercedes.
The 28-year-old Mercedes was the talk of baseball when he started the season 8-for-8 and generally decimated big league pitching for the first six weeks of the season. Mercedes batted .368/.417/.571 through the season’s first 38 games, producing at a Herculean level even as hitters throughout the league struggled so extensively that MLB finally began to crack down on pitchers’ use of foreign substances.
In his next 31 games, however, Mercedes has seen his offensive production completely evaporate. The endpoint here, admittedly, is rather arbitrary, but Mercedes is hitting just .150/.220/.196 across his past 118 plate appearances. Understandably, the Sox have begun to cut back on his playing time, and he’s now Charlotte-bound, where the team will hope he can get a reset of sorts to round back into the form he displayed early in the 2021 campaign.
11:00am: The White Sox are calling up infield prospect Jake Burger for his big league debut today, tweets The Athletic’s James Fegan. Scott Merkin of MLB.com suggested last night (via Twitter) that Burger was likely to be with the club in Detroit this weekend, and the White Sox themselves have even tweeted a not-so-subtle indication that Burger is getting the call — though they’ve yet to make a formal announcement and reveal the corresponding roster moves.
It’s the culmination of a remarkable journey for the 2017 first-rounder, who has twice torn his Achilles tendon and endured grueling, months-long rehabilitations. Burger didn’t play in a single minor league game from 2018-19 (or in 2020, for obvious reasons). Making the jump from Class-A to Triple-A after a three-year layoff from competitive games is impressive in itself, but Burger has done far more than simply make that leap — he’s absolutely torn Triple-A pitching apart. In 185 plate appearances over 42 games, the former No. 11 overall pick has mashed at a .322/.368/.596 clip, swatting 10 homers, 15 doubles and a triple along the way.
Burger only recently turned 25, so despite the considerable injury hurdles he’s had to clear in his journey to this point, his age lines up nicely with the rest of an increasingly impressive core of young White Sox stars. He’s played primarily third base in the minor leagues, but the Sox began getting him some looks at second base when Nick Madrigal went down with a season-ending hamstring tear. For the time being, however, Burger could get a look at his primary position at the hot corner, as Yoan Moncada sustained a hand injury on a slide into third base yesterday.
Burger’s early performance could be pivotal for the White Sox. While they’re comfortably in command of the American League Central, they’ve still reportedly been discussing a trade centering around D-backs infielder Eduardo Escobar. While those talks have apparently slowed as other teams jump into the Escobar bidding, Burger’s performance could conceivably curb Chicago’s own interest.
If Burger storms out to a hot start and Moncada comes back healthy sooner than later, the Sox could just let Burger run with the second base role and forgo an infield upgrade entirely. Conversely, if Burger looks overmatched, the Sox might be more interested in pursuing a short-term upgrade at a clear position of need on a win-now club — be it Escobar or another trade candidate.
The White Sox placed outfielder Adam Eaton the 10-day injured list today due to a strained right hamstring. The placement is retroactive to June 15. Right-hander Zack Burdi was promoted from Triple-A to take Eaton’s spot on the active roster.
With Eaton sidelined, this means that Chicago’s entire projected Opening Day outfield is now on the injured list. While Eaton’s hamstring problem doesn’t seem nearly as serious as the injuries that have sidelined Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert for the bulk of the season, it does underline how the Sox have managed to adapt and thrive despite these significant setbacks. In particular, hamstring and leg injuries have struck several White Sox players this season, with GM Rick Hahn recently discussing about how the team has been trying to figure out if there is any sort of root cause behind this unusual recurring issue.
Originally a member of the White Sox from 2014-16, Eaton returned to the Windy City this offseason after signing a one-year free agent deal worth $8MM in guaranteed money (including the $1MM buyout of an $8.5MM club option the Sox hold on Eaton for 2022). The results haven’t been good at the plate, as Eaton is hitting .195/.296/.345 over 203 plate appearances and his 25.1% strikeout rate is the highest of his career.
With Eaton gone, the Sox have Andrew Vaughn, Adam Engel, and Brian Goodwin as their starting outfield, with Jake Lamb and Leury Garcia able to fill in as part-timers. Outfield already seemed like a target area for the White Sox at the trade deadline given the uncertainty over Jimenez and Robert, and if Eaton ends up having to miss more time beyond the 10-day minimum, the club could be inspired to make a move sooner rather than later to shore up depth.
Dec 10: The White Sox have formally announced the signing via a press release, tweets James Fegan of the Athletic.
Dec 8: The White Sox have brought a familiar face back to the South Side, as NBC Sports Chicago’s Chuck Garfien (Twitter link) reports that the Sox have signed outfielder Adam Eaton to a one-year, $7MM contract. The deal contains a club option worth $8.5MM for the 2022 season, with MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reporting that the option has a $1MM buyout. Eaton is represented by Diamond Sports Management.
Eaton previously played for the White Sox from 2014-16, emerging as a reliable and productive everyday outfielder over those three seasons. With Chicago embarking on a rebuild, Eaton was traded to the Nationals almost exactly four years ago to the day in a very notable deal that brought the Sox a trio of young arms — Lucas Giolito, Dane Dunning, and Reynaldo Lopez.
Flash forward to today and Giolito is the ace of Chicago’s staff, Lopez is on the roster though perhaps looking at a move to the bullpen after struggling as a starter, and Dunning was just traded to the Rangers yesterday in the swap that brought Lance Lynn to Guaranteed Rate Field. Between adding Lynn and Eaton within 24 hours, the White Sox have now checked two notable items off their offseason to-do list.
After Nomar Mazara didn’t produce much in 2020, the White Sox were known to be looking at outfield help, with such names as Michael Brantley and Joc Pederson linked to the team. (USA Today’s Bob Nightengale also reported this morning that Eaton was “on their radar.”) With Eloy Jimenez in left field and Luis Robert in center, Eaton will be slated for right field, his regular position over the last three years in Washington. Adam Engel, coming off a strong 2020 season, now looks to be set for fourth outfielder duty, though the right-handed hitting Engel could spell the left-handed hitting Eaton when a southpaw is on the mound.
Eaton’s lefty bat will provide some balance to a White Sox lineup that leans to the right, though Eaton will be looking to rebound from his worst offensive season as a starter. He hit .226/.285/.384 over 176 plate appearances for the Nats last season, with his lowest walk rate (6.8%) since 2013. Between this lack of hitting and a tough year defensively (-6.1 UZR/150, -6 Defensive Runs Saved over 335 innings in right field), Eaton was a sub-replacement level player, with -0.5 fWAR. These numbers led the Nationals to decline their club option on Eaton’s services for 2021, instead buying him out for $1.5MM.
The White Sox are clearly hoping that Eaton’s struggles were due to the abbreviated and unusual nature of the 2020 season, and that he’ll produce something closer to his usual numbers (.289/.367/.423 over 3066 PA from 2014-19) under somewhat more normal circumstances next season. The one-year deal doesn’t represent a huge investment on Chicago’s part to see if the 32-year-old Eaton can bounce back, and 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.
The Nationals have declined their 2021 options on right fielder Adam Eaton, right-hander Anibal Sanchez, first baseman Eric Thames and infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick, per a club announcement. Eaton’s five-year, $23.5MM deal contained club options for the 2020 season ($9.5MM) and the 2021 season ($10.5MM with a $1.5MM buyout). The Nats picked up his 2020 option last winter but will buy him out on the heels of a woeful season at the plate.
Sanchez’s two-year, $19MM deal with the Nats contained a $12MM club option with a $2MM buyout. Thames signed a one-year, $4MM deal last winter — one that came with a $4MM mutual option and a $1MM buyout. Kendrick’s $6.25MM deal with the Nats came with a $4MM salary in 2020 but a hefty $2.25MM buyout on a $6.5MM mutual option for 2021. All four players will be paid those buyouts and head back to the open market.
Eaton, 32 in December, was acquired in the blockbuster trade that sent pitching prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to the White Sox — all three of whom started games for the South Siders in 2020. Giolito has emerged as one of the game’s best young pitchers since the trade, but the others have yet to solidify themselves as consistent arms. (Dunning will surely get that chance in 2021.)
While Eaton’s time with the Nats ended with a whimper — he batted just .226/.285/.384 in 2020 — he was a key member of 2019’s World Series roster. Eaton appeared in 151 games with the Nats in that championship season, batting .279/.365/.428 with 15 homers, 25 doubles, seven triples and 15 steals. He had a quiet postseason before breaking out to go 8-for-25 with a pair of homers and four walks during the 2019 World Series.
From 2014-19, Eaton batted .289/.367/.423 with 51 homers, 133 doubles, 37 triples and 74 steals, and any club that signs him this winter will hope for a return to that level of productivity. He’s never won a Gold Glove — he very arguably should have in 2016 — but Eaton has a solid defensive reputation in right field. He’s unlikely to return to those 2016 heights that saw him log 27 Defensive Runs Saved and an 18.5 Ultimate Zone Rating in right field, but Eaton has a solid track record of above-average power, speed and glovework that should appeal to clubs at something less than the one-year, $10.5MM price point on which the Nats passed.
Sanchez, 37 in February, improbably revitalized his career for a second act when he latched on with the 2017 Braves at the end of Spring Training. Sanchez parlayed a brilliant rebound campaign with the Braves into a two-year, $19MM deal in D.C. and, like Eaton, provided considerable value to the World Champs in 2019. That season saw Sanchez rack up 166 innings of 3.85 ERA ball, and he went on to give the Nats 18 innings with a 2.50 ERA in the postseason — including a dominant, 7 2/3-inning scoreless effort against the Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLCS.
Unfortunately for Sanchez and the Nats, his 2020 season swung in the other direction. He pitched 53 innings and was tattooed for a 6.62 ERA in that time, but there’s no denying the crucial role he played in helping the Nats to their first World Series title.
Speaking of that World Series, Kendrick will go down in Nationals lore as perhaps the biggest hero of the whole season. His epic grand slam put away the Dodgers in the decisive Game 5 of the NLDS, and Kendrick again played savior when he banged what looked like a perfectly located pitch from Will Harris off the right foul pole to put the Nats on top over the Astros in Game 7 of the World Series.
Kendrick battled through injuries in his return to the Nats in 2020, however, taking just 100 plate appearances and posting a solid but unremarkable .275/.320/.385 slash in that time. Kendrick isn’t certain whether he’ll play again in 2020 or retire at this point, so he’ll take some time to ponder his future.
Thames inked a one-year deal with the Nats last winter but never really found his footing. He took 140 turns at the plate but managed only a .203/.300/.317 batting line in that small sample. The former KBO star slugged 72 homers in the three prior seasons with the Brewers, and he could fit on a club looking for a lefty bat that can platoon at first base or in the outfield corners. Given the scope of his 2020 struggles, he may need to earn his way onto a roster via a minor league deal, however.