It proved to be another pivotal move made by Boston Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski when he dealt young left-handed pitcher Jalen Beeks to the Tampa Bay Rays for the flame-throwing righty, Nathan Eovaldi.
Eovaldi became a superstar in just his second game in Boston when he dominated the rival Yankees in eight innings of shutout baseball. It became clear throughout the season that if you could only do one thing right as a Red Sox pitcher, it better be putting out strong performances against New York.
It was a slightly up and down season for the right-hander in Boston — and it wasn’t always pretty. While showing spurts of excellence, Eovaldi also had a share of poor performances as a starter.
In his third start with the team at Camden Yards, the lowly Baltimore Orioles had done some serious damage against Eovaldi, causing some Red Sox fans to become tepid in putting their faith in him while in big spots.
However, any questions or concerns they had were silenced in the postseason where Eovaldi put on several dominating performances causing Red Sox fans to call for the flame-thrower to make a return to Boston with a brand new deal. And honestly, it isn’t solely a fan request as David Price – who he himself will be around the Red Sox organization for the next four years – had told Eovaldi on a recent Twitch stream that he “better be re-signing”.
During his half season with the Red Sox Eovaldi put up solid numbers. They were nothing spectacular, but they were certainly worth noting, as this is a season coming back from his second Tommy John surgery. Through 111 innings pitched between his time with the Rays and Red Sox, he ended game 162 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.126 WHIP.
The numbers above are nothing to squawk about, but with all of the attention he’s receiving this offseason, wouldn’t you expect something more dominant?
Or maybe he’s receiving this attention because of the grit, passion and immensely high ceiling he proved to have throughout the postseason with gutsy performances, and a will to go deep into games. And on some occasions, throw a starting pitchers amount worth of innings in extras.
There have been rumors reported by WEEI’s Rob Bradford that Eovaldi is drawing heavy interest from quite a few ball clubs. Some of those clubs include the Philadelphia Phillies, who were a starting pitcher away from being a true contender. The Yankees, who had Eovaldi in the past and were beaten down by him throughout the course of his Red Sox tenure.
Another team showing substantial interest that I believe has a strong chance at landing the free agent is the Houston Astros. The Astros most likely will lose Dallas Keuchel on the free agent market and have already lost Lance McCullers to Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss all of 2019. Due to those two circumstances, Eovaldi makes too much sense to end up in Houston. And on top of the Astros’ need for another starting pitcher? He is a Houston area native, making the Astros an enticing club for the righty.
While all of this is nice and Red Sox fans want to see the return of this postseason warrior, the question is, will the bidding war cause his price range to become unreasonable?
Something I have said since the beginning of the offseason is that I absolutely want this pitcher back — but at the right price. I want to emphasize at the right price because, as I mentioned earlier, his regular season was good, not great. He showed plenty of flashes of dominance – like against the Yankees – but still fell into times where he looked lost.
MLB Trade Rumors has Eovaldi pegged to land a four-year, $60 million deal, which would leave him at a $15 million average annual salary. Now that is a price that I would absolutely love to see the Red Sox ink him for. Do I think that’s all he’ll receive? I absolutely do not.
One of the greatest things a free agent can have happen to them over their offseason “sale” is a bidding war. Let’s face it, Eovaldi has become one of the hottest free agent fish on the market shelves this offseason after what he proved in the postseason. Before that, he was an intriguing pitcher who had shown spurts of excellence, but nothing consistent enough to land him a big-time deal.
Now that there are upwards of nine teams who are testing the waters, I am confident in saying Eovaldi will land something along the lines of $20 million per season, which is still something the Red Sox should take a look at.
Something people have to remember is the team did have some money fall off the books this offseason with the departure of Hanley Ramirez. You also have to keep in mind that the Red Sox also owe money to one of their most unproductive signings in history in Pablo Sandoval through the 2020 season.
While there was some money freed up in the likelihood that the team won’t be bringing back free agent closer Craig Kimbrel, Dombrowski also has to be very, and I mean very mindful of the fact that if he’s going to want to keep this young, talented core together, he’s going to have to dole out some serious cash to reigning AL MVP, Mookie Betts, and potentially Xander Bogaerts who will be on the free agent market at this time next year.
While I think Eovaldi put on an excellent show during the postseason and had a solid regular season, the team has to be careful about how much they spend on a right-hander who is coming off his second Tommy John surgery. The Red Sox in the past have handed out contracts that in the end have come back to bite them severely. To name a couple of those deals: Carl Crawford and Pablo Sandoval.
If you can bring Eovaldi back at a number around $20 million per season and stretch that for three or four years, then fine. But the bidding war could get the best of them with this pitcher. Will it necessarily be a bad thing if they do overpay? No, especially due to the fact that you will most likely need a right-handed arm in the rotation being that Rick Porcello is a free agent after this upcoming season. Regardless, it is imperative that this team is on their guard through this process. It’s no secret that Dombrowski likes to spend, but the name of the game is taking the foot off of the gas pedal at the moment with a focus on future signings that will be taking place with players who are already in the clubhouse.
I know there has been a steady name of players who are free agents in the near future, but another name that should concern Red Sox fans; Chris Sale. Will he be back after 2019? That is another man who, if you so choose, you’ll have to pay handsomely to ensure his return to Fenway Park.
Eovaldi fits the mold of Boston entirely. He has grit. He has heart. He has proven ability to step up on the biggest stage and show pure and utter dominance. But he isn’t an ace, and I’m even slightly tepid to even call him a top tier second arm in a rotation. While I do believe that he will be back in Boston, the Red Sox better spend by the motto, “The price is right”.
Let me end by saying this. If they so choose, the Boston Red Sox could outbid nearly any other club for a player’s services. The question though; is Red Sox ownership willing to spend “X” amount of dollars in that given year? If Boston wants to overspend on Nathan Eovaldi, they could. But once again, it all comes down to being reasonable with this deal while being mindful of future contracts.