Posted on December 6, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
For the Boston Red Sox, it only took 12 regular season and six postseason appearances from Nathan Eovaldi to convince them to bring him back to Boston long-term. For Eovaldi, winning a World Series ring was all that was needed to convince him to stay in Boston. On Thursday, the two sides agreed to a four-year deal worth $68 million that will keep Eovaldi in a Red Sox uniform through the 2022 season. After Patrick Corbin landed with the Nationals earlier this week, Eovaldi is the second big-time starting pitcher to sign in free agency this winter.
“He’s a game-changer,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Eovaldi earlier this week. “We know the stuff he has. Actually, he went through the process of mixing up his pitches, attacking guys in different spots.”
For Eovaldi, signing a lucrative, long-term deal is the culmination of a lot of hard work following multiple Tommy John surgeries. He first had the procedure in high school but was able to recover and reach the big leagues. He flashed elite stuff during the early part of his career with the Dodgers, Marlins, and Yankees. His best season came with the Yankees in 2015 when he went 14-3 with a 4.20 ERA. However, consistency always seemed to be an issue.
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In August 2016, Eovaldi required a second Tommy John surgery that forced him to sit out the entire 2017 season. After that surgery, the Rays gave him a chance. Upon his return, Eovaldi went 3-4 with a 4.26 ERA in 10 starts. Tampa Bay then traded him to Boston last summer. At the time, the Red Sox were looking for a back-end starter to help solidify their rotation down the stretch. But they ended up getting more than they bargained for in a good way.
In 11 starts and one relief outing for the Red Sox, Eovaldi was 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA. He then took things to another level during the postseason. In two starts and four relief appearances during the playoffs, Eovaldi posted a 1.61 ERA over 22.1 innings. He became one of the biggest heroes of Boston’s title run. Despite plenty of other teams showing serious interest in Eovaldi, including some of Boston’s biggest competitors in the American League, the Red Sox appeared intent on bringing him back.
Eovaldi will remain a member of a Boston rotation that also includes ace Chris Sale and two Cy Young winners in David Price and Rick Porcello. The Red Sox also have Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Brian Johnson to help fill the final spot. With Eovaldi staying in place, it’s safe to say that the Red Sox will have one of the best and deepest starting rotations in 2019.
With their rotation set, the Red Sox figure to get to work on their bullpen. Both Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly, the team’s best relievers last season, are both free agents. The Red Sox retain several capable relievers. However, they still need a bonafide closer if they plan to successfully defend their world championship next year. Obviously, the Red Sox are far from finished making moves this offseason. However, keeping Eovaldi in Boston will help ensure that the Red Sox have a rotation capable of carrying them a long way in 2019 and beyond.