Initially, the Phillies came to know Adam Eaton when they drafted him with the 11th overall pick in the 1996 Draft. He had a strong run in the Phillies minor league system, including a no-hitter as a member of the Reading Phillies in 1999.
Needing more pitching at the major league level, the Phillies packaged Eaton with Carlton Loewer and Steve Montgomery in a deal after the 1999 season, sending them to San Diego for pitcher Andy Ashby.
While Eaton went on to have decent success with the Padres, he was eventually shipped to the Texas Rangers in January of 2006, only to become a free agent following that season. From there, it was a return to the Phillies on a nice, fat free agent deal that was questionable at the time and ridiculous when viewed with 20/20 hindsight.
After searching all winter for someone to take Eaton off their hands - even offering to pay the vast majority of his remaining contract - the Phillies finally decided to simply take their lumps and cut him loose. GM Ruben Amaro had already said that Eaton wouldn't be in the mix for the fifth starter's spot, he wasn't going to be an easy fit for the bullpen and he announced earlier this month that he wouldn't accept another trip to the minors, as he did last week.
In all honesty, the Phillies did Eaton a favor. By releasing him now, he has time to latch on with another club and look to regain some footing before heading back into free agency after the season. The Phillies owe him $8.5 million, plus a $500 thousand buyout for the 2010 option on his contract and are on the hook for all of that money, minus whatever another team would sign him for (most likely $400 thousand).
When you look back, Eaton really and truly didn't produce anything much for the Phillies. He went 14-18 in two seasons with the Phillies and leaves with an ERA of 6.10 to go along with his suitcase full of money. Even in the deal for Andy Ashby, the Phillies received a pitcher who started just 16 games for them before they jettisoned him to Atlanta. In his time in Philly, Eaton was 4-7 with a 5.68 ERA, not counting his original two seasons with the club back in the early '90s.
If you take it even further, the guy the Phillies received in exchange for Ashby - Bruce Chen - went just 7-12, 4.28 in 31 starts with the club.
It remains to be seen now, if Eaton will be able to latch on elsewhere in an attempt to revive his career. It's likely that given the low risk for another club, he could get an offer to fight for a spot with another club, where maybe a change of scenery would benefit him.