Toronto Blue Jays Trade Target: If the ChiSox are Selling – Adam Eaton

Jays From the Couch explores the idea of the Toronto Blue Jays trading for Adam Eaton to fill their outfield vacancy


With the Hot Stove season kicking off there’s been much speculation surrounding the Blue Jays and their pending free agents. With the likelihood of signing both Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista seeming less and less likely, and the free agent market cupboards bare, where could they turn?


We have recently looked at the possibility of trading for the enigma that is Yasiel Puig, who according to rumours, has been on the market for almost a year. And now news has surfaced that both the Chicago White Sox, and Detroit Tigers are possibly looking to break their respective rosters down.


While the Tigers have some interesting options, most of their players come with large contracts that may not be in Toronto’s payroll parameters. The only option they have that could fit with Toronto is right-fielder J.D. Martinez, but giving up top prospects for one season of return does not seem like something this regime would be willing to do.



This is where the White Sox and their underrated and relatively inexpensive right-fielder, Adam Eaton, would make sense for the Blue Jays. Though this is just a mere exercise in speculation, please follow along for a moment here while we explore this option.




Eaton is a player who’s come into his own on the defensive side of the ball since being traded over to the White Sox back in December 2013. Being a centerfielder by trade upon he quickly proved some defensive value with a DRS total of 11 for the 2014 season, but slid back drastically in 2015 with a -14 DRS. Since then, he was moved to right field where he provided an impressive 22 DRS total during the 2016 season over 980.1 innings, with a UZR/150 rating of 18.1. This saw him named as a finalist for the Gold Glove Award for his position.


Having him patrolling the outfield to the left side of Kevin Pillar would be a dream come true for the Blue Jays pitching staff. Especially after the last few seasons of sub-par defense from that position. Their combination would give Toronto a total of 4.4 dWAR (Baseball-reference) with Pillar (2.6) and Eaton (1.8) roaming the outfield.





While the offensive production would not be what fans in Toronto have become accustomed to Eaton would provide a lot more than some expect. The Ohio native has averaged 46 XBH over his last three seasons, including leading the American League in triples in 2014 and 2016, with 10 and 9 respectively. Admittedly, this is lower than the 59 XBH averaged by Jose Bautista over the same time, but it’s more than respectable.


Another feature that makes Eaton an attractive option is his left-handed bat which has proven to be equally productive when facing left-handed and right-handed pitchers. While his career slash is 284/357/428, he has proven to be split neutral with a 284/356/436 versus RHP, with a 285/359/352 when facing LHP. Not only does this provide the team with a true lead-off hitter, it also removes the need for Gibbons to use platoons later in games.


Eaton also has some speed on the bases. Though not considered a speedster he’s averaged around 16 stolen bases a season over the last three. He also rates above average in base running metrics (BsR) with a 5.5, and 4.4 over the last two seasons. His ability to take extra bases would provide a weapon the Blue Jays have been missing from the lineup.




The former Miami of Ohio player is entering the last three seasons of the five year, $23.5 million dollar deal he signed with the White Sox. If Toronto were to acquire his services they would be on the hook for the remaining $18.4M {$4M (17),$6M (18), $8.4M (19)}, plus $3M worth of buyout options. Should they decide to pick up the team options for 2020 and 2021, they would be $9.5M and $10.5M, respectively.


For a player who has provided an average a 5.1 wins above replacement (bWAR) over the last three seasons, the dollar amounts would equate to a major bargain for the Blue Jays, even if his production slipped a tad over time. It is also notable that Eaton will be just 28 next season, meaning he would be 32 by the time his contract comes to an end. Toronto would be getting him through his athletic prime.




The relatively cheap dollar value of Eaton’s contract will make him an attractive option for a lot of teams should the White Sox decide to take this route. It also means the expected return for his services could be fairly steep. Chicago knows what type of player they have on their hands, so it is almost certain they will be looking for a healthy return. Though the combination of age and contract value, cheap by today’s standards, could make the investment more than worth it for inquiring teams.




*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison-(flickr) UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0




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