Right fielder Adam Eaton is returning to the White Sox.
Eaton, 32, and the Sox agreed to terms on a one-year, $7 million contract with a team option worth $8.5 million in 2022, a source said, confirming reports of a deal the team will announce soon.
Eaton, who played for the Sox in 2014-16 before being traded to the Nationals in the deal that brought right-handers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to the South Side, hit only .226 in the abbreviated 2020 season and got a $1.5 million buyout after the Nationals declined their $10.5 million option for 2021.
Unless the Sox are aiming higher, perhaps for Michael Brantley or Joc Pederson, indications are a platoon of the left-handed-hitting Eaton and right-handed-hitting Adam Engel will be the their solution at a position Nomar Mazara manned ineffectively last season.
Eaton had his share of clubhouse rifts and dust-ups with the Sox, including a fight with then-third baseman Todd Frazier in 2016 that became public, but the Nationals spoke well of him as a teammate and the Sox aren’t concerned about their clubhouse mix with or without him.
Via text message, Eaton said he is ‘‘glad to be back’’ with the Sox and is ‘‘absolutely’’ looking forward to playing for 76-year-old manager Tony La Russa.
Eaton, who missed the last two weeks of last season with a broken left index finger, will be out to prove his numbers in 2020 were an outlier. In 2019, he batted .279/.365/.428 with 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases during the regular season before hitting .320/.433/.560 with two homers in the Nationals’ World Series triumph against the Astros.
Eaton has a career hitting line of .282/.360/.416.
Mum on La Russa
General manager Rick Hahn, taking part in his first video conference since it was revealed that La Russa was arrested on a DUI charge in February — his second such arrest — declined to discuss the subject.
‘‘We’ve been fairly consistent that we’re not talking about any elements of that till after everything is resolved,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘I’m sure once it’s resolved, first Tony and then anyone else — myself — who winds up on one of these Zooms will be happy to talk about it at length. But for now, we’re deferring it until that date.’’
La Russa is expected to enter a guilty plea Dec. 21 in his case in Maricopa County, Arizona, after his arrest for allegedly driving under the influence — an arrest the Sox say they knew about when he was hired in October.
Hahn said La Russa, the third-winningest manager of all time, gives similar levels of input on personnel decisions as previous managers Robin Ventura and Rick Renteria did.
Abreu wins Hank Aaron Award
First baseman Jose Abreu was named the American League winner of the 2020 Hank Aaron Award, which recognizes the most outstanding offensive performer in each league.
Abreu became the first Sox player and first Cuban-born player to claim the honor. Only Abreu and Angels superstar Mike Trout have won AL Most Valuable Player, AL Rookie of the Year, Silver Slugger and Aaron honors.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman won the Aaron Award in the National League.