Eaton spent the first half of the 2021 season with the Chicago White Sox, but he was released earlier this week after struggling to produce offensively.
The Angels have signed OF Adam Eaton to a Major League deal. He was released by the White Sox 2 days ago.
— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) July 14, 2021
While the Angels’ addition of Eaton may seem inconsequential, the move actually has a lot of upside.
Here’s how the 32-year-old can help the Angels in the second half of the season as the team hopes to make a playoff push.
Eaton Will Help Carry Juan Lagares’ Weight
Eaton might not be coming for Juan Lagares’ job in center field, but the two players could certainly split time in a platoon situation.
To this point, Lagares has been a net negative for the Angels.
He is batting just .219 on the year while reaching base at a .246 clip and slugging .350.
In all, he has an OPS of .596, an OPS+ of 59, and a WAR of -0.3 this season.
That said, Lagares does bring some value to the table defensively.
For his career, he averages a defensive WAR of 2.2 per 162 games, and he even won a Gold Glove Award back in 2014.
His defense might be enough to justify keeping him in the lineup against lefties, because he is generally at his best offensively when facing a southpaw.
Evidence: Lagares has a .675 OPS against lefties this season and a .554 OPS against righties.
This is where Eaton comes into play.
Eaton is much better against righties (.684 OPS) than he is against lefties (.425 OPS), so he and Lagares could very well split time depending on the day-to-day pitching matchup.
The first home run of 2021 belongs to Adam Eaton. We’ve come full circle
— Sox On 35th (@SoxOn35th) April 2, 2021
Eaton Will Help Bridge The Gap To Mike Trout’s Return
The aforementioned platoon suggestion is probably a best-case scenario for the Angels, but until Mike Trout returns from his calf injury, Eaton and Lagares might both need to start.
We all know what Trout brings to the table.
He is a career .305 hitter with a ridiculous 1.002 OPS, and he somehow averages a WAR of 9.5 per 162 games.
Eaton is no Trout, but he could be a key player in filling Trout’s shoes until the superstar comes back.
Right now, the Angels are also without outfielder Justin Upton as he continues to deal with a lingering back issue, so the team’s outfield depth is very shallow.
For that reason, Eaton could find himself thrown into a key role right away.
A mid-season change of scenery is sometimes all it takes to rejuvenate a veteran player.
Just look at Albert Pujols.
The Angels released the 41-year-old earlier this season when he was batting just .198 with a .622 OPS.
But since joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pujols has been able to completely turn his season around.
He is batting .275 with an OPS of .824 over 39 games in Dodger Blue.
Perhaps the same type of situation will unfold with Eaton.
After all, he has had some really solid seasons in the past.
From 2015 to 2019, Eaton was a .287 hitter with a 115 OPS+.
Above all else, it’s encouraging to see the Angels adding talent at this point in the season.
It might suggest that the team is serious about making a playoff push in the second half this year.
The Angels are 45-44 in 2021.