Washington Nationals center fielder Adam Eaton has been diagnosed with a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the 2017 season
The Washington Nationals suffered a major blow on Saturday, as outfielder Adam Eaton will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Washington has had a very hot start to the year, going 16-8 in its first 24 games. Yes, Bryce Harper‘s power streak has been a major benefactor in this, but it’s Eaton who has solidified the top of the lineup.
In his 23 games this season, Eaton batted .297/.393/.462 with two home runs, 13 RBI and two stolen bases. He had four more hits (27) than games played, as well as 24 runs scored and seven doubles. He ranked third in runs scored and fifth in doubles. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to report the news.
The injury occurred in the ninth inning of Friday’s game versus the Mets. Eaton beat out a throw to first, but went down immediately after stepping on the bag. Things looked bad from the get-go, as he had to be carried off the field.
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To add insult to injury (literally), the Nationals gave up their top pitching prospect to acquire Eaton over the winter. Back in December, GM Mike Rizzo made the decision to go for it. In exchange for Adam Eaton, the Nats gave up the third-best prospect in all of baseball, Lucas Giolito, along with Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.
It was a clear message to the league that the Nationals were going all-in, and now that decision has backfired. Obviously, it isn’t their fault that Eaton got hurt. It’s not even his fault he got hurt. He just did, in a totally normal way for baseball players to get injured.
Although the wound is still fresh, Washington will have to address the void in production caused by this injury. To fill his roster spot, they’ve called up outfielder Rafael Bautista from AAA Syracuse. Michael Taylor is slated to fill in for Eaton, but isn’t expected to be nearly as productive. Taylor has accumulated -0.5 bWAR across parts of four major league seasons, and is hitting a pitcher-esque .095 (2-21) so far in 2017.
The season is still very young, so it’s a bit early to expect any major trades to happen soon. However in light of Eaton’s injury, the Nationals may have to start looking for center field options outside of the organization. They would likely only want someone on a one-year contract though, considering Eaton will be back again in 2018. As far as free agents go, Coco Crisp and Angel Pagan are the only players capable of playing center that remain unsigned. Crisp shouldn’t be that hard to pick up, but Pagan publicly stated that he was sitting out the 2017 season.
It’s much too early to take trade predictions seriously, but Angels center fielder Cameron Maybin could become available if the Halos can’t stay in contention. There’s a small, but real chance the Pirates decide to sell at the trade deadline following Starling Marte‘s suspension. If that comes to be the case, the Nationals could rekindle trade talks with Pittsburgh over center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who the Nats were looking at over the winter before deciding to go with Eaton. The Nationals are still a strong team, but they lost a big piece in Adam Eaton.