Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo made three key moves this offseason by signing slugger Matt Adams and reuniting with utility man Howie Kendrick and reliever Brandon Kintzler. The return of outfielder Adam Eaton, however, could ultimately prove to be Washington's biggest addition. The Nationals' offense erupted last season for a Major League-leading 170 runs in April, an average of 6.80 runs per game, and more than a run better than the next-highest team over that span (Yankees, 5.57). Who led Washington's early outburst? The newly acquired Eaton. Rizzo's trade with the White Sox following the 2016 season -- bringing Eaton to Washington and sending pitching prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to Chicago -- paid immediate dividends. The blockbuster addition batted .297/.393/.462 with two homers and 13 RBIs, while crossing the plate 24 times in his first 23 games. But on April 28, Eaton fell to the ground after legging out an infield single in the ninth inning of an eventual 7-5 loss to the Mets, the result of tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and ending his season. The club still finished with the fifth-most runs scored in MLB for the year and clinched the National League East title before losing to the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. It was a solid season by many standards, but an overall disappointment for the World Series hopefuls. It left many wondering: Would Eaton have been enough to push the club past the first round of the postseason? Ultimately, it's tough to say, though a fullly healthy Eaton could push the Nats over the top as they again look to contend in 2018.
Will Eaton's return provide big lift for Nats?
MLB.com | Jan 27