Usually there are a lot of trades and free-agent signings during Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings because everyone is congregated in the same place. Those began Monday, but they are being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. Things had been rather quite on MLB's Hot Stove League this offseason, but the Chicago White Sox finalized two intriguing moves Tuesday in trading for starting pitcher Lance Lynn from Texas and signing free-agent outfielder Adam Eaton. William Hill Sportsbook now lists the Pale Hose as +1400 sixth-favorites to win their first World Series since 2005.
The 33-year-old Lynn will be in the final season of his contract in 2021 (very reasonable $9.3 million), but Chicago needed veteran pitching behind ace Lucas Giolito and lefty Dallas Keuchel. Lynn has been a workhorse over his career and should be a perfect No. 3. In 2019 with the Rangers, Lynn finished fifth in the AL Cy Young voting (one spot ahead of Giolito) by going 16-11 with a 3.67 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 208.1 innings, good for a career-high WAR of 7.6.
In the shortened 2020 season, the right-hander was 6-3 with a 3.32 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 84 innings, a WAR of 2.3 that was 11th-best among all starting pitchers. Lynn finished sixth in the AL Cy Young voting, one spot behind Keuchel and one ahead of Giolito.
Lynn cost the White Sox two prospects, led by pitcher Dane Dunning. New White Sox manager Tony La Russa had Lynn for 18 games in his final season as Cardinals manager in 2011.
The other glaring hole on the White Sox was in right field, and Eaton -- who signed a one-year, $7 million deal -- could help solve that. Right field has been an offensive black hole on the White Sox for years – their primary right fielder in the past two seasons has had a negative WAR. Last year, it was largely Nomar Mozara, and he hit .228 with just one homer, a .295 on-base percentage and 44 strikeouts in 136 at-bats. He was non-tendered recently.
Eaton played for the White Sox from 2014-16 but was traded in December 2016 to Washington for Giolito, Dunning and fellow pitcher Reynaldo López. Eaton, who has been injury-prone, was very good in 2019 in hitting .279 with 15 homers, 49 RBIs, 15 steals and an OBP of .365. He also was in the running for World Series MVP by batting .320 in the 2019 Fall Classic vs. Houston, hitting two homers with six RBIs in helping Washington win its first title.
This past season, the 32-year-old hit just .226 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 41 games and had his $10.5 million option declined by the Nats.
The White Sox probably aren't done as they need a full-time designated hitter, most likely a left-handed hitting one. Former Cub Kyle Schwarber has been a rumored target. The Sox could have quite the imposing with 2020 AL MVP Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Eaton and perhaps Schwarber.
To win the AL pennant, Chicago is a +600 third-favorite at William Hill behind the Yankees (+280) and Rays (+500).
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