WEEI – The Red Sox are reportedly nearing a deal with free agent right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on a four-year contract that could be worth nearly $70 million…Eovaldi, 28, was a tremendous find at the trade deadline, going 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA after arriving from Tampa, and then following it up with a dominating postseason that saw him go 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA. He delivered one of the signature performance of the playoffs, even though it ended in defeat, when he tossed six innings of three-hit relief in an 18-inning loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the World Series.
Free-agent RHP Nathan Eovaldi in agreement with #RedSox, pending physical, sources tell The Athletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2018
While the terms of the deal are still unknown, most of the big baseball writers have been speculating 4 years at $70 million, which is $17.5 per year. It might sound like a lot for a guy who was a midseason pickup that had a really strong second half and an incredible playoff run, but I’m totally on board with this move. The Red Sox needed Nathan Eovaldi for this upcoming season, but more importantly for the next few years.
The Red Sox rotation is stacked, but is also top heavy and comprised of expensive guys in contract years. Chris Sale has had his last 2 seasons start off incredible only to stumble down the stretch due to injuries and is a free agent after this upcoming season. Are the Red Sox prepared to give him a $200 Million contract? I’m not so sure. Rick Porcello is also in a walk year and while he’s had his ups and downs over the years, he will be a 30-year-old free agent with a Cy Young Award under his belt next winter so don’t expect him to come cheap. That leaves the Red Sox with David Price, who has ranged from trainwreck to solid to elite so your guess is as good as mine for what to expect, but Price is signed for the next four years at least. After that the Sox are left with Eduardo Rodriguez, who seems to miss extended time with injuries every year, and a bunch of Triple-A pitchers.
Simply put, the Sox need someone to anchor this staff alongside David Price beyond just next season.
So the Sox needed to make this move. I’m less concerned with Eovaldi’s injury history as I am with projecting future performance. Even though he’s had two Tommy John surgeries, as we’ve said here before; that’s basically a prerequisite to being a great starting pitcher these days. Alex Speier dove a little deeper on that issue:
“The idea that a two-time Tommy John recipient could be seen as something other than an extreme risk illustrates how drastically the landscape has changed over the last decade…the chief risk appears to be whether a pitcher returns to his prior level from a second Tommy John surgery. There is a survival effect. Roughly 20-25 percent of pitchers never make it back from a first or second Tommy John, but those who do appear at no greater risk than other pitchers who hadn’t undergone even a single Tommy John procedure.”
Would I be shocked to see Eovaldi’s performance regress back to the mean next year though? No I would not. But at 4 years this deal is a drop in the bucket for John Henry and the Red Sox. Dave Dombrowski loved what he saw, primarily because Eovaldi saved his bacon and the Boston bullpen en route to a World Series title. Now Dealer Dave likely smells blood and sees a ripe opportunity for the Sox to repeat (and clinch Dombrowski’s spot in the Hall of Fame) so why pinch pennies now? Welcome back to Boston, Nate.