Boston Red Sox: Is free agent Nathan Eovaldi worth a look?
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox are capable of bargain hunting and one may be available in recently released Nathan Eovaldi. Is he worth the wait?
The New York Yankees released right-handed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and that was driven by the fact Eovaldi will miss the season rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery. The 26-year-old is now available on the open market and with the injury issue can be considered similar to looking for a recliner in the damaged section of Bob’s Furniture with the idea of saving 50 percent.
The Red Sox have explored risks in the past with various degrees of success and failure with the most notable being Luis Tiant. Boston also took a risk with a two-time Cy Young Award winner in Bret Saberhagen, who did squeeze out one very respectable 15-8 season with the Sox. The risk is sometimes worth the wait and the relatively low dollar amount – baseball dollars, of course – that are invested. The proverbial toss it against the wall school of baseball management.
Sifting through the statistical information you clearly see a pitcher who would best be classified as a lower end addition to a rotation – depending upon how one defines lower end. The BB/9 is somewhat attractive at 2.9 for Eovaldi’s career as is the K/9 of 7.0. Not so encouraging is a H/9 of 9.5 that certainly contributes to a career WHIP of 1.38 and an earned run average of 4.21. The career FIP of 3.85 somewhat mitigates that.
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As a Red Sox fan, I have seen Eovaldi pitch and he does pitch with some power having a career fastball that is 95.5 MPH. Eovaldi tosses in a slider, curve and change up as his other pitches and does have a GB% of 47. Nothing spectacular or attention-getting.
Against the Red Sox, Eovaldi has an impressive 3-0 record and that gets less impressive when it is accompanied by a 4.45 ERA overall and a 5.60 ERA at Fenway Park. One measure of note is Eovaldi is a graduate of Alvin high school in Alvin, Texas – same place that Nolan Ryan attended, but the similarity ends there.
Is this even worth a glance?
Whichever team assumes Eovaldi assumes a risk that is always attached to such a dramatic arm injury. Players have recovered and continued on a successful career path and that is most noteworthy of Tommy John for whom the surgery is named. Others never recover or simply face the knife again. The Red Sox manager John Farrell had undergone the procedure twice before pursuing other options.
The risk is based on the one ingredient the Red Sox do have – money. They may be paying for a season of rehabilitation and another of adjusting to resuming pitching competency. A contract would certainly have clauses that will keep agents and lawyers examining contractual minutia that may extend longer than the Paris Peace Accords of 1973.
Another plus that the Red Sox have is patience. They can wait. Their staff appears relatively stable for the next few seasons, especially in the starting rotation. That could also work against them as Eovaldi may wish to sign with an organization that offers greater opportunity and thus an eventual larger payday.
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This is worth the risk – dependent, of course, upon the fiscal requirements. I doubt the Red Sox or any other organization is willing to post a long-term deal knowing the risks involved, so Boston may just sign Eovaldi and wait the situation out.