January 21, 2021

Eaton reportedly coming back to White Sox; Lance Lynn joins rotation

The White Sox filled two of their needs in a short span.

Late Monday night, word leaked they added a veteran starting pitcher – Lance Lynn – in a trade with the Rangers. The move became official Tuesday, and the Sox sent young starter Dane Dunning and left-handed prospect Avery Weems to Texas to complete the deal.

The Sox also addressed their hole in right field Tuesday, reportedly bringing back Adam Eaton on a one-year contract with a club option for 2021.

The 33-year-old Lynn, who finished sixth in American League Cy Young voting last season after going 6-3 with a 3.32 ERA over 13 starts while striking out 89 in 84 innings, is a proven performer. He joins Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel at the top of the White Sox’s rotation.

“Acquiring Lance was a priority for us,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “We wanted to make sure we were able to acquire someone this offseason that we felt confident could not only fit into the front end of our rotation but was going to be ideally reliable every fifth day to give us some depth and give us some length in his outings.

“Those who have followed him know how dominant Lance has been over the last couple of seasons with Texas.”

In his two years with the Rangers, Lynn went 22-14 with a 3.57 ERA and led the major leagues with 292 1/3 innings pitched and 46 starts while tying for fifth in wins and strikeouts (307).

Over nine seasons with Texas, the Yankees, Twins and Cardinals, the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder is 104-71 with a 3.57 ERA.

“When you saw what this team was able to do, and you’ve seen it coming, to be a part of it, it’s exciting,” Lynn said. “I like to win and I’m looking forward to having that opportunity.”

Under contract for one more season, Lynn could be viewed as a risky move if Dunning has an extended run of success in Texas. Hahn was more than willing to take that gamble.

“I don’t think we need to hang any signs on the side of 35th Street, but it’s pretty clear what our intentions are at this time,” the Sox’s GM said. “We feel the window is open, and we are now going to be aggressive in our efforts to try to put us in our best position to win championships. We want to keep that open as long as possible, so we don’t intend to do anything reckless or too detrimental to our long-term health.

“At the same time, we know the chances to win are rare and need to be properly serviced to increase those chances as much as possible. When you look at a guy like Lynn and his track record and durability over the course of the season, he’s an extremely strong stalwart piece of a quality rotation. We still firmly believe in Dane Dunning’s future, but the reality is that Dane Dunning in 2021 is going to probably have to be a little bit limited in terms of his ability to give you the amount of innings that a guy like Lance Lynn could.”

As for Eaton, NBC Sports Chicago’s Chuck Garfien first reported the free agent is returning for $7 million. The deal includes an $8.5 million club option for 2022 with a $1 million buyout.

Four years ago, Eaton was traded from the Sox to the Nationals for Giolito, Dunning and Lopez.

A productive player for the Sox from 2014 to 2016 while hitting .290/.362/.422 over 433 games, Eaton was a terrible clubhouse presence.

He got into at least two fights with former third baseman Todd Frazier and backed up former first baseman Adam LaRoche in a bizarre beef about his son Drake being around too much.

When LaRoche abruptly retired during spring training in 2016, Eaton said the Sox “lost a leader” in Drake.

I caught up with Eaton midway through the 2019 season when the Nationals were in town playing the Sox. He took a hard look back at his stormy stay on the South Side.

“It used to be just, ‘Me, game. Me, game. Me, game. Me, game,’” Eaton said. “Now it’s like, it’s not about me. It’s about my family, health. I’ve changed a lot. You’ve got to go through hard times in order to appreciate it and gain an understanding and learn from your past.”