Letting Nathan Eovaldi walk was the Red Sox's biggest mistake
By Tim Burke
Back in December, Ian Browne of MLB.com appeared on the ITM podcast and revealed Boston's negotiations with Nathan Eovaldi were messy. Given the booming free agent market, they eventually rescinded their multi-year contract offer to their former ace after he explored other options.
Well, that was a mistake. Eovaldi has been dominant for the Texas Rangers. Earlier this season, he posted a shutout streak for 29-2/3 innings and has an ERA of 2.60 and two complete games throughout his first 10 starts. As of May 24, no Red Sox starter has an ERA below 4; Eovaldi's ERA is well below 3.
The Red Sox rotation surely misses Nathan Eovaldi right now
The Red Sox have started the season well with a 26-22 record, but they have a team ERA of 4.77 ERA, 25th in the MLB. Their starting pitching has been their biggest weakness throughout the season. To this point, Corey Kluber has performed below his usual standards and has yet to be the crafty veteran rotation leader the Red Sox have hoped for.
After a tough start, Sale has strung together four consecutive quality starts, but given his history of injuries and fading late in the season, he cannot be relied upon to lead this staff during a playoff race. This is a good baseball team, but they need more to be a postseason team. For the Red Sox to do this team justice and be a genuinely competitive ball club, they must acquire an ace. It keeps the pressure off Sale, Paxton, and the young, developing starting pitchers.
In hindsight, it is easy to criticize the Red Sox for not keeping Eovaldi. At the time, people were concerned about his health at the end of 2022, and it was fair to question whether a pitcher entering his age 33 season would fully recover. However, It is easy to forget that he returned from his injury early in 2022 to help this team win baseball games because the pitching was not good enough without him. After all, he was the defacto Red Sox ace since 2020 and led a rotation for a team that was two wins away from going to the World Series. Now fully healthy, Eovaldi is showing he is a real ace.
The Red Sox desperately needed an ace this offseason and failed to acquire one. Unfortunately, they had the perfect candidate for the job but let him walk in Free Agency not because it was best for the team but because he did not agree to their teams when they wanted. Not resigning Eovaldi can potentially be the most significant organizational mistake in the Chaim Bloom era because it can cost a good team a chance to play in October.