Nathan Eovaldi’s October heroics made him a cult hero with Red Sox fans last postseason. They are going to make him a rich man moving forward.
The Red Sox entered the offseason with one hole in their starting rotation and now it’s filled. The team’s decision to bring Nathan Eovaldi back into the fold should solidify Alex Cora’s starting pitching for the 2019 season.
It’s obvious that Eovaldi’s gutsy pitching during the 2018 postseason really impressed Boston officials. The rest of the league took notice as well. That’s why the Red Sox were ultimately forced to pony up a four-year, $67.5 million contract for the talented righty.
The contract could certainly turn out to be a deal in today’s market. The Red Sox are hoping that Eovaldi can maintain the level of performance he showed after coming over from Tampa Bay ahead of last year’s trade deadline. He threw 54 really good innings for Boston with an ERA of just 3.33 in the regular season. Of course, he was even better in the playoffs.
The downside of the deal is pretty severe as well. Eovaldi has already undergone two Tommy John procedures in his career. Elbow issues limited him to just 111 innings pitched during the 2018 regular season. Eovaldi isn’t the sort of player you can comfortably forecast to eat up 200 innings per season.
Despite the risk, it’s still a move the Red Sox had to make. They weren’t going to head into the 2019 campaign with Drew Pomeranz as a projected member of their rotation. At best, he’ll serve as insurance in case Eovaldi or one of his fellow starters are forced to miss significant time.
A reasonable projection for the Red Sox front office is that they can get 150 innings of above average pitching from Eovaldi next season. If he can give them that kind of regular season production combined with a good playoff performance, he’ll easily justify the $17 million plus he’ll make next year.
In a perfect world, Boston could have gotten Eovaldi on a cheaper, or shorter deal, but that’s not where the market for starting pitching is right now. The Red Sox swallowed hard and paid what they needed to acquire their top target. Locking Eovaldi up for the long haul should help stabilize their rotation for the foreseeable future.