The saga of Nathan Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox will now move up to a prime-time slot as his postseason heroics make his resigning a must do. What if it fails?
The Boston Red Sox rotation needed a booster shot and that was supplied by Tampa Bay when they shipped Nathan Eovaldi north and Jalen Beeks headed south. Eovaldi – still in rehabilitation mode from Tommy John Surgery – provided a stabilizing factor for the remainder of a historic season.
Eovaldi was a good, but not a great pitcher for the Red Sox. A 3-3 record and 3.33 ERA/2.88 FIP is certainly not Chris Sale territory. Then came the playoffs when Eovaldi became a great pitcher and not a good one. Even a losing 97 pitch relief effort against the Dodgers became a story for future legends. Undoubtedly, the storytellers will have a victorious Eovaldi.
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There are free agents who minimize and maximize value during the season and into the playoffs with Eovaldi being one who most assuredly has hit the maximization home run. The discussion of signing often contains a notation such as 4-year, $60 million contract. The soon to be 29-year-old righty is on the cusp of joining the one percent club.
The beauty of Eovaldi’s projected numbers is his affordability – this is baseball money, folks – to a wider range of suitors. That opens up the potential of a bidding war with the Red Sox in the middle of the fiscal fray. And for Boston, the signing of Eovaldi has taken on a must do status for fans, media, and in the management bunker at Fenway Park.
If Eovaldi surprises and moves elsewhere the Red Sox are not in trouble but potentially deep trouble. The options internally are limited to Steven Wright, Brian Johnson, and Hector Velazquez. Wright – if close to 100% – would be a viable replacement, but with a history of a balky knee that may be pinning pitching hopes to not an arm but orthopedic intervention.
The Red Sox issue with a non-Eovaldi staff is the invariable breakdown of who remains. Sale is a worry since it is a tender left shoulder that became one catalyst for the Eovaldi trade. Enigmatic Eduardo Rodriguez with his world of talent misses too many starts – usually over a quirky injury. And David Price? The new hero Du Jour made 30 starts in 2018. Will that happen?
The Red Sox with an Eovaldi walking away could go really upscale in the free agent market with a long look at Dallas Keuchel or Patrick Corbin – two more lefties. You migrate down the list of free agents and names surface that say “Hell, no!” or “Hell, yes!” when you take more than a cursory glance. Personally, Anibal Sanchez offers about as much enticement as a return of Drew Pomeranz.
The Red Sox world without Eovaldi is like attempting to complete a puzzle with a piece missing. The dark cloud hovering in the background is the Yankees who are in the process of re-arming (pun intended) with the trade for James Paxton and the resigning of pitching heavyweight C.C. Sabathia. The “Evil Empire” is not done.
The world without Eovaldi can be cured and in all probability will be by President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. I expect Boston to sign Eovaldi since the options are far more expensive and performance frustrating.