|CHICAGO WHITE SOX|
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Re-signed OF-L Adam Eaton to a five-year extension worth $23.5 million with two club options worth a total of $20 million. [3/20]
A reasonable extension for a player whose ilk seldom receive long-term contracts.
Eaton is short and injury prone and power bereft, with three more big-league home runs (six) than disabled-list trips, and 67 percent as many games missed due to those DL stints as games played. His reliance upon contact, defense, and baserunning render him a stereotype—a throwback, essentially. But while those qualities are positive, Eaton's blemishes promote skepticism. Like, can Eaton sustain a high-enough average to atone for his absence of power? Or, heck, will he ever stay on the field for a full season? And what happens if the injuries affect his speed, or douse his hair-on-fire approach?
Each is a genuine concern as it pertains to Eaton's long-term viability. However, let's not over-think this. Eaton is a 26-year-old with near-elite contact rates (he whiffed less often on pitches outside the zone than George Springer did on pitches inside the zone), good speed and defense, and a league-average walk rate. Last season those skills resulted in a 2.8 WARP, third-best among White Sox hitters—swell for the youngest player on the roster to crack 100 games. Besides, those flaws are part of the reason why Eaton is on the White Sox in the first place—otherwise he'd remain out in Arizona.
It's not as though Eaton crashed the market, either. Rather this is a fair deal for a player who should be an average or better starter for the next few seasons. In fact, he's guaranteed less money than Cameron Maybin was three years ago, when he signed a similar extension (five years, $25 million) at a nearly identical point in his career—only 43 days of service separate the two, and Maybin, like Eaton, had been traded the previous offseason. Eaton may lack Maybin's perceived upside—and there's arguably more risk involved—yet the lower salary and second club option serve as a monument to that idea.
What this means for the White Sox is Eaton becomes the latest member of their long-term core, alongside Jose Abreu, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and David Robertson. Those five are each controlled through at least the 2018 season, when their combined salaries will exceed $50 million. Rick Hahn will have to buttress that group with savvy acquisitions—as he did with the original Eaton deal—but he believes this group can make the White Sox competitive again. For now, there's no reason to doubt him.
Special thanks to Matthew Trueblood for research assistance.
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