Adam Eaton has returned to whence he came.
Eaton agreed to a one-year, $7 million deal with the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, according to NBC Sports Chicago. The White Sox also reportedly hold an $8.5 million team option for next season.
The Nationals acquired Eaton from the White Sox in a 2016 deal which sent starting pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López and Dane Dunning to Chicago, essentially boring out the starting pitcher depth in the organization. Dunning was traded Monday for established starter Lance Lynn. Giolito threw a no-hitter in 2020 after evolving into an All-Star in 2019. López remains in a hunt for consistency.
Eaton became a free agent after the Nationals declined a $10.5 million contract option to retain him next season. They are now in search of a starting right fielder, sifting through a bevy of free-agent options.
Eaton’s legacy after four years in Washington is two-fold: first, an ACL tear just 23 games into his first season hampered him for all of 2017 and part of 2018. Thinking of Eaton causes thoughts of injury, under-performance for most of his four years and declining outfield play.
The blingy wrinkle is 2019. Eaton played his lone full season, making his way to 656 plate appearances, a .792 OPS and a stable spot as the No. 2 hitter. He played poorly in the initial rounds of the postseason before putting together an outstanding World Series during which he delivered a .993 OPS and performed as the Nationals’ second-best hitter.
In Chicago, Eaton enters a clubhouse environment much different than the one in Washington. The Nationals were a veteran-laden team in 2019 and again in 2020. Chicago is built around young, effervescent stars. Eaton will go from Juan Soto and Victor Robles being the outliers to Tim Anderson (27), Eloy Jimėnez (24), Yoán Moncada (25) and Luis Robert (22), among other young players, being the norm.
Of the nine Nationals hitters to start Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, only four -- Trea Turner, Soto, Robles and Yan Gomes -- remain with the team.