Luis Tiant, Wade Boggs, Johnny Damon, and Jacoby Ellsbury are among the many players who wore a Boston Red Sox uniform for a significant portion of their career before signing with the New York Yankees in free agency.
Nathan Eovaldi could be next, though in his case, it would be a reunion; he already pitched for the Yankees from 2015-16.
In fact, his Yankees debut was against the Red Sox, and he was credited with a no-decision in the 6-5 loss. Over 51 games (48 starts) in two years, he posted a 4.45 ERA, 1.387 WHIP, and 4.11 FIP.
Nathan Eovaldi is Yankees backup plan if they can’t sign Carlos Rodón
He appears to be the Yankees’ contingency plan if they fail to sign Carlos Rodón, the top starting pitcher remaining on the free-agent market. As of Wednesday morning, a ‘sizeable gap’ remains between the two sides; the southpaw is seeking a contract for at least seven years with at least a $30M AAV, and the Yankees are thinking more in the 4-5 year range, which makes sense, given their several expensive long-term commitments.
Eovaldi would be a significantly more affordable option, but it’s surprising that the Yankees want him. He didn’t pitch particularly well for them years ago, and his time in the Bronx ended on a sour note: in August 2016, he underwent Tommy John surgery for the second time, and despite having him under club control for 2017, the Yankees released him in November.
The Yankees also have a righty-heavy rotation, with Nestor Cortes as the lone lefty. Eovaldi is also coming off a rough, injury-marred season and will turn 33 in February, while Rodón had an All-Star season and just turned 30 over the weekend. Eovaldi’s two stints on the Injured List totaled about two months of missed time, so he only made 20 starts for 109 1/3 innings. It was a disappointing downturn after his All-Star 2021 campaign, in which he finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting for leading the American League with 32 starts and a 2.79 FIP over 182 1/3 innings, the second-highest count of his 11-year career. In last year’s Wild Card game, he dominated the Yankees for 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight, not issuing a single walk, and allowing just one run, a solo homer.
The Sox acquired Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays at the 2018 trade deadline, and the righty quickly became one of the best midseason trades in franchise history. That fall, he became a World Series legend when he made a stunning 97-pitch relief appearance in what would become the longest game in postseason history by innings and minutes. His performance motivated his teammates to rebound after a frustrating loss, and they took the series in five games.
Ahead of the 2019 season, Eovaldi signed a four-year extension to remain in Boston. He finished that contract this year with a 4.15 ERA across 84 regular-season games, including 73 starts, two complete games, and two games finished. Aside from an injury-shortened season that first year, he kept his ERA under 4 in the three remaining years of his deal.
The Sox extended a Qualifying Offer and a multi-year offer to Eovaldi in November, but reports suggest he’s unlikely to return. Boston’s roster does have seven or eight starting pitcher options, but Eovaldi was the anchor of the rotation for the last several years. If the Sox truly wanted to add another starter – and Chaim Bloom keeps saying they do – why not bring back the proven one?
As of the 2022 trade deadline, when Andrew Benintendi became a Yankee via trade from the Kansas City Royals, 236 players in MLB history have been on both sides of the Rivalry. In many cases, a player’s defection to the Dark Side is barely a blip on the radar. But fan favorites, especially postseason heroes, are different. Damon and Ellsbury were considered the ultimate traitors for years after signing lucrative deals with the Yankees.
In an already-painful offseason, Red Sox fans don’t need this as the cherry on top of the heartbreak sundae.