The New York Yankees have interest in prying free agent Nathan Eovaldi away from the Boston Red Sox if they don’t land their top pitching target.
It’s no secret that the New York Yankees are making a hard push for Patrick Corbin, widely viewed as the top starting pitcher on the free agent market. While the Red Sox don’t appear to be in the mix for the talented lefty, the fallout if the Yankees fail in their pursuit of Corbin could have ramifications felt in Boston.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that Corbin remains their top free agent target but the Yankees have a few other starting pitchers on their radar who could serve as a suitable backup plan. That list includes Red Sox postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi.
The Yankees have some familiarity with Eovaldi, who pitched in the Bronx for two years until Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2017 season and ended his tenure with the club. He went 23-11 with a 4.45 ERA in 51 appearances over those two seasons in New York. Those mediocre results in his last stint with the franchise haven’t dissuaded the Yankees from considering a reunion. Not after they watched him return pitching better than ever while turning into a postseason hero.
Eovaldi was particularly effective against the Yankees, owning a 1.93 ERA in four regular-season starts against New York and defeating them again in the ALDS. Adding Eovaldi to their rotation could partially be motivated by a desire to avoid facing him again.
Despite the obvious appeal of Eovaldi, Corbin is their preference. This is the Yankees we’re talking about, so it’s no shock that they are hunting the top option on the market.
Corbin is an All-Star coming off a career year in which he posted a 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 11.1 K/9 for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He would be a strong addition to the Yankees rotation, giving New York a boost in their efforts to compete for the AL East division crown.
While Corbin is viewed as the better pitcher with a superior track record, the Yankees being forced to “settle” for Eovaldi could be more damaging to the Red Sox considering it would mean a rival would be stealing their own top free agent target.
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Boston seems unlikely to counter by outbidding the Yankees for Corbin, who could earn a contract comparable to the six-year, $126 million deal the Chicago Cubs gave Yu Darvish last year. Corbin could even top that considering he’s younger than Darvish and has been more durable in recent years.
Eovaldi may end up with a shorter deal that earns about half the total Corbin is projected for. That makes him more of an ideal target for a Red Sox team with MLB’s highest payroll that has to worry about Chris Sale hitting the free agent market a year from now. Boston isn’t looking to break the bank for an ace, nor do they need to. A middle of the rotation option like Eovaldi makes more sense, particularly after he endeared himself to Red Sox Nation with a gutsy postseason performance.
The Yankees aren’t the only team that will aggressively pursue Eovaldi if they miss out on Corbin. Eovaldi undoubtedly knows this, which is why it would be wise for him to wait until Corbin signs before accepting an offer. Even if his preference is to stay in Boston, it’s to his benefit to allow other teams to bid against the Red Sox to inflate his price tag.
The Red Sox still hope to sign Eovaldi so long as the bidding war doesn’t get too out of control but they may need to wait for the Corbin domino to fall before negotiations heat up.