The Red Sox solidified their starting rotation for 2019 and beyond by signing postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi to a four year, $67.5M contract. The hard throwing righty was an integral piece of Boston’s playoff run, and became a fan favorite with strong performances against the Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers. With the signing, Boston’s starting five projects to be Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eovaldi, and some combination of Eduardo Rodriguez and/or Steven Wright, unless the Sox view Eovaldi as a possible closer if Craig Kimbrel does not resign (likely) or if Matt Barnes or another closing option is not explored during this Hot Stove season. It will be interesting to see if Eovaldi’s post-season versatility will sway the Sox into considering this move. Either way, the Sox retain a pitcher who seemed to thrive under the bright lights of Boston’s scrutinizing eye.
It is well documented that Eovaldi has endured two Tommy John surgeries in his seven year career, but his control and velocity didn’t seem affected during last season’s tenure with the Sox. How about this for a stat? Nate the Great went 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 12 appearances with the Sox since coming north from Tampa in July. In the postseason, he put up a 1.61 ERA, limiting batters to 4 earned runs in 22 innings. He threw a seven inning, five hit, one run game in Boston’s 16-1 drubbing of the Yankees. In his next start in Houston, he put up similar numbers against a lethal Astros lineup, pitching 6 innings of 2-run ball. And of course, he had the gutsy, 6-inning relief appearance against the Dodgers in the World Series where he unfortunately mislocated a pitch to Max Muncy who ended the longest game in World Series history by depositing the ball into the bleacher of Chavez Ravine. But despite the loss, Red Sox players and fans were enamored by his performance (Rick Porcello admitted he cried, claiming it was the best pitching performance he’d ever witnessed).
He certainly felt at home in the Fens.
Ultimately, if his health can hold, I like the move a lot. Again, Eovaldi has shown he can be versatile in many different situations, so if he struggles in the rotation, the Sox have a gas throwing reliever they can manage out of the ‘pen. Not sure you want to pay a reliever $17M a year, but hey...that’s how it goes sometimes. You have to overpay to ensure a guy who has proven himself in a difficult market can attempt to recreate the magic of a year ago. As an added bonus, Eovaldi stays out of the crusty claws of the pinstriped team 215 miles south of The Hub. Eovaldi, a former Yankee, is the second desirable starter that New York as lost out on this week with Patrick Corbin choosing to go from Arizona to the Nationals.
One final thought...I like that the Sox have resigned Steve Pearce and Eovaldi. They’re good fits, and their contracts aren’t necessarily breaking the bank. But I hope the Sox don’t try to just maintain the status quo of last year. Obviously, it was the most successful season of all of our lifetimes, but I would like to see them improve the bullpen and perhaps acquire a serviceable second baseman if Dustin Pedroia struggles to get healthy again (NOT Ian Kinsler). But Eovaldi has shown he can play here, and has embraced his role in a Red Sox uniform. Hopefully he can duplicate his 2018 performance for years to come.
Photo: NBC San Francisco