Nathan Eovaldi has always had tantalizingly good stuff with a 100 MPH fastball, a killer cutter, devastating curveball and nasty splitter.
Eovaldi’s career had been mauled by injuries, but he put it together in September and October of 2018. The right-hander had possibly the gutsiest performance in World Series history in Game 3 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Eovaldi got rewarded with a 4-year, $68 million dollar contract from the Red Sox.
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At the time, Eovaldi’s contract didn’t look horrible, but after 2019, the opinion around the contract has certainly changed. Eovaldi posted a 5.99 ERA and only pitched 67.2 innings. Not great for a guy who will be getting $51 million over the next three seasons.
Eovaldi’s season got derailed by injuries, starting with a procedure to remove loose bodies from his elbow back in April. Then, the Red Sox rushed him back and stuck him in the bullpen, a foreign area to him. After that experiment imploded like Craig Kimbrel’s 2018 postseason, Eovaldi was moved back into the rotation after an injury to David Price– more on him later. Eovaldi still wasn’t effective as a starter to close out his 2019 and is looking like a bust headed into 2020.
Eovaldi still has three years to make that contract look good. Ultimately, his contract is worse for the Red Sox because Sale doesn’t have as lengthy of an injury history and he pitched much better than Eovaldi did in 2019 with a 3.39 FIP vs. 5.90 FIP.
Overall, Eovaldi still possesses his electric pitch mix and can flip into his 2018 mode at any time. If Eovaldi can put it all together in 2020, the contract may end up not looking so terrible, perhaps even a good contract. But based off of the indications shown in 2019, there is little reason to believe that Eovaldi can have a bounce-back 2020 campaign.
The Red Sox could possibly move Eovaldi, but it will be difficult. Bloom will have to hope Eovaldi can regain his form and post a quality 2020 season and live up to the contract he signed.