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Washington Nationals’ outfield set for 2020; Nats pick up option for Adam Eaton

While there are plenty of questions about the Nationals’ roster for 2020, Washington’s outfield is pretty much set, barring injuries or changes over the winter...

2019 World Series Game 6 - Washington Nationals v. Houston Astros Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Included in the five-year/$23.5M contract Adam Eaton signed with the Chicago White Sox in 2015, two years before he was dealt to the Washington Nationals, were two club options which covered the 2020 ($9.5M or a $1.5M buyout) and 2021 ($10.5M/$1.5M) seasons.

Over the weekend, according to multiple reports, the Nationals picked up Eaton’s option for 2020, locking up their right fielder, who finished 15 for 61 (.246/.361/.410) in the postseason, after going 8 for 25 (.320/.433/.560) with two home runs in the World Series.

Eaton hit two doubles, a triple, and two home runs in 17 games and 75 plate appearances in the playoffs overall, with more walks (10 BBs) than Ks in postseason play (nine strikeouts).

Eaton, finally healthy after dealing with significant injuries in his first two seasons in D.C., put up a .279/.365/.428 line, 25 doubles, seven triples, a career-high 15 home runs, 65 walks, and 107 wRC+ in 151 games and 656 PAs in a 2.3 fWAR campaign in 2019, and he talked during the World Series about how much he and his fellow outfielders had grown together over the course of the summer.

“This year since Spring Training, [Juan Soto], [Victor] Robles, and I have really come a long way, very long way,” Eaton explained. “Spring Training was fun and interesting.

“How far we’ve come since then has been tremendous.

“Those guys have -- Soto seems like he’s playing like a 30-year-old, like his mentality. He seems like he’s played ten seasons. Robles is the exact same way. The poise that both of these guys bring is — day in and day out is remarkable.”

Acquired in a 3-for-1 deal with the White Sox in December of 2016 which sent Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning to Chicago, Eaton tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee, and injured his ankle as he stumbled at first base running out a grounder in 2017, and missed time in 2018 after arthroscopic surgery, “to remove a flap of cartilage on his ankle,” after injuring it again on a play at the plate, but he managed to stay healthy throughout the 2019 campaign and provided what the Nationals expected when they acquired him.

“‘I always believed Adam would be a major contributor when he was healthy and playing on the field,’” GM Mike Rizzo said last week, as quoted by Forbes’ writer Robert Kuenster.

“‘He plays the game hard and does everything to help the team win. He proved that this year and he is a big reason for our success.’”

“Adam is a big part of our team,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters.

“He’s come through like many other players with big hits and he knows how to play the game and do what it takes to win with leadership and commitment. He can lay down a bunt, put the ball in play on a hit and run, get on base, and hit the ball out of the park.

“Anything you ask him, he’s willing to do.”

While he’s coming back in 2020, Eaton acknowledged that he knew there would be some changes to what was a really close clubhouse.

“It’s hard to bring back the same guys year after year,” the outfielder told MASN’s Alex Chappell during the World Series championship parade on Sunday.

“But the guys are the most important people in the clubhouse, they run the clubhouse, and it’s been a special year with a special group of people that will be hard to duplicate.”