The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly interested in signing a pair of Boston Red Sox free agent pitchers – Craig Kimbrel and Nathan Eovaldi.
It seems that the Philadelphia Phillies have been tied to every free agent this winter, including a pair of Boston Red Sox pitchers hitting the market this winter.
The Phillies are expected to be major players in the Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sweepstakes, with some insiders predicting they may try to land both superstars. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reports that their ambitious agenda doesn’t end there, listing Craig Kimbrel and Nathan Eovaldi among the free agents Philadelphia has their eyes on.
Philadelphia supported one of MLB’s highest payrolls when they were contenders earlier this decade but trimmed their budget through a recent rebuilding phase. They ranked 23rd in the majors with a payroll just north of $104 million this year, per Spotrac.com. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if they doubled that figure with a few splashy free agent moves to vault themselves back into the postseason.
If they fail to reel in the two biggest fish, expect the Phillies to go hard after the second-tier free agents. That would include the two Red Sox pitchers who would seem to be on Boston’s priority list.
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We knew there would be competition for Kimbrel and Eovaldi, making it difficult to retain both. An aggressive strategy by the Phillies could cost Boston both pitchers. A large market team with money to burn makes for dangerous competition on the free agent market. Philadelphia may be willing to overpay with so much room in their budget while the Red Sox need to be more cautious after spending deep into the luxury tax with MLB’s highest payroll in 2018.
Kimbrel is coming off a shaky postseason but he remains one of the game’s top closers. Boston will struggle to fill the ninth inning void if he bolts in free agency, with Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier serving as underwhelming internal solutions. The other relievers with closing experience on the market come with more red flags than Kimbrel does, creating risk if the Red Sox wanted to pivot to a cheaper option. Zach Britton provides similar upside if healthy but he’s also on Philadelphia’s wish list.
Eovaldi endeared himself to Red Sox fans with a gritty postseason performance. Those heroics has his price tag rapidly rising, potentially pricing him out of Boston’s budget. As great as he was down the stretch and into October, Eovaldi would still slot in toward the back of a loaded Red Sox rotation. Can they stomach competing with teams willing to pay him as a frontline starter?
The Phillies are clearly eager to spend but they don’t have room for everyone they want. If they land at least one of their bigger priorities, it could lead to them falling out of the mix for Boston’s targets. Their presence as big spenders in this market potentially will drive up the price though. If the Red Sox want to keep Kimbrel and Eovaldi in town, they better be willing to open their wallets.