There Are Better Options Than Nathan Eovaldi

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By Terry Cushman  –  @cushmanMLB

To basically come right out with it, Nathan Eovaldi’s market is currently exploding.  His agents have been very busy engaging in dialogue with several front offices.   So far the current teams that have been connected to him are:

Boston Red Sox

San Diego Padres

Milwaukee Brewers

Atlanta Braves

Anaheim Angels

Chicago White Sox

Toronto Blue Jays

San Francisco Giants

New York Yankees

These are just the teams that we know of, and does not factor in other teams that might eventually enter the sweepstakes.   His market will almost certainly continue to grow, and at this point, I fully expect a bidding war.   As a quick disclaimer, I’m all for signing Nathan Eovaldi.  But only to a two year deal.   Which is now virtually unrealistic.

The problem with signing Eovaldi to a four year deal, as the market is currently suggesting, is that he is NOT the guy who was lights out in October.   In fact, a few weeks before the playoffs were to begin,  nobody knew whether he would be in the starting rotation or the bullpen.

The Red Sox faced the Yankees in the ALDS, which was typically a team Eovaldi dominates.   In both regular season starts against the Bronx Bombers after arriving in Boston, the former Yankee himself pitched 14 innings, never giving up a single run.   As well as only giving up a combined five hits in both starts.   So it’s no wonder he was dominant against them in October.

The Dodgers, much like the Yankees, are an “all or nothing team.”   They live and die by the home run.   So there was no surprise there, that he managed to shut down Los Angeles as well.

Many people forget that in Eovaldi’s third start with the Sox, he fell off the cliff rather quickly.   He gave up eight runs to the lowly Orioles in 2.2 innings.   Anyone can have a bad start, right?   Well in nine of his next ten starts, only once did he pitch six full innings, often getting a quick hook from manager Alex Cora.   Including four starts where he never reached the fourth inning.   His 3.33 ERA during his Red Sox stint is a bit deceiving, as it was entirely due to the short leash Cora kept him on.  Especially when he was pulled with runners on base.

Fans and insiders over the past few weeks will use advanced analytics to justify giving Eovaldi a long term contract.   But at the end of the day he’s a career 4.16 ERA pitcher, who has  had two Tommy John surgeries.   It’s not all that uncommon for a pitcher who has undergone two of those, to end up needing a third.  Especially when they throw 102mph.   Speaking of which, with that kind of velocity, why does he only average roughly 4-5 strikeouts per start?

Could Eovaldi be stout for a year or two?   It’s very possible.   Could he be a top of the rotation guy, and completely healthy over the life of a four year deal?   It’s highly unlikely.

His market value is speculated to be about four years, $60,000,000.00.   That number could easily rise to five years, $80,000,000.00+ if an intense bidding war to ensue.   This is where I hope the Red Sox know when to bow out.   A four year deal carries tons of risk, and Boston still has not gotten itself out from under some pretty terrible contracts.

Currently on the market is a recent Cy Young winner who’s market is currently projected at four years, $84,000,000.00.   As well as a career 3.66 ERA, and an ERA in the playoffs of 3.31.     Why not go with a proven guy who has been one of the game’s best pitchers for several years?   Especially if he costs the same money as Eovaldi?

The Red Sox have Chris Sale and David Price.   As well as Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez.   They don’t necessarily even need an ace.   Just a complimentary pitcher to join the rotation and be serviceable.  Not to mention every non-contending team would likely be willing to deal an arm.

I love what Nathan Eovaldi did into the wee hours of that October night.  And his fearlessness throughout the month.  But it was just one great month.  In the interest of winning, a team must pursue value, and players who are proven.   Especially in multi year deals.

Signing Eovaldi to a four year deal would be as reckless as the other bad contracts were.  Eventually the Red Sox need to learn from those mistakes.



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