Washington Nationals: Could Adam Eaton be a low-key trade candidate?
By Blake Finney
There are likely to be several moving pieces for the Washington Nationals this off-season. It would be surprising, but could outfielder Adam Eaton be moved?
After a down-season in 2018, the Washington Nationals have several key decisions to make this offseason. Although they only acquired him just under two years ago, Adam Eaton might be a low-key trade candidate.
On December 7th, 2016, Mike Rizzo pulled the trigger to acquire the dynamic spark plug. He sent prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to the Chicago White Sox to make it happen.
Sadly, the story of Eaton’s time in the nation’s capital has been a tale of injury woes. At the end of April in 2017, he tore his ACL and was out for the rest of the year. Then this season he missed two months of the season thanks to an ankle injury.
More from District on Deck
- Washington Nationals Tuesday Q&A
- 3 Free Agents the Nationals Should Gamble On
- A Washington Nationals Christmas Wishlist
- Washington Nationals: Is Seth Lugo Still an Option?
- Robots in Baseball? The Possibility of an Automated Ball/Strike System in the MLB
When he has been healthy, he’s been a really good player for the Nationals. In parts of two seasons, he’s hit .299 with a .803 OPS and a 115 wRC+ in Washington, becoming a solid presence in the leadoff spot.
The problem that Eaton has with the Nationals, is that the outfield could be incredibly stacked. Juan Soto and Victor Robles look to be young superstars and will be there for a long time. Then there’s the elephant in the room, Bryce Harper.
Harper, obviously, is a free agent after the 2018 season, and it’s still unclear where he may end up in free agency. Right now, it seems like the Nats could be favorites the re-sign the megastar, and if that plays out, Eaton should be dealt.
A Harper, Robles, Soto outfield is far too mouth-watering to pass up if it becomes an option, and Michael Taylor is well suited to a fourth outfielder role. While Eaton has done nothing wrong, he would end up being the odd man out.
However, that’s all contingent on Harper re-upping with the team in the offseason. If they can’t bring him back, then Eaton is practically the perfect fallback option for the team and would still do a great job. However, Soto, Robles, and Harper should be the preferred option.
While they wouldn’t be able to get a similar package that the White Sox got for Eaton, he would still be able to command a reasonable haul. According to Spotrac, he’ll be under club control for roughly $9.5 million per year through the 2021 season, with team options for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
The Nationals could try and flip Eaton for immediate help at catcher or some starting pitching. Or they could just try and top up their middle of the road farm system if they can’t get some help in the right areas.
Perhaps one trade partner could be the Cleveland Indians. They do need an outfielder still with only Michael Brantley and Bradley Zimmer locked in their outfield, and they have depth in the rotation. Perhaps something centered around Danny Salazar or Shane Bieber, young third baseman Nolan Jones, and starter Sam Hentges.
Another possible team, with the same DH benefits, could be the Seattle Mariners. However, they lack the immediate help, they would need to drain their already thin farm system. A package of Kyle Lewis, Julio Rodriguez, and Art Warren would be possible to attain from the win-now Mariners.
While trading Adam Eaton isn’t overly likely right now, the Washington Nationals would be wise to at least consider it. Once the team sorts out the Bryce Harper situation, their strategy may become clearer.