Boston Red Sox, MLB

Red Sox postseason star Nathan Eovaldi out 4-6 weeks after elbow surgery

A struggling Red Sox pitching staff just got a little thinner, with Nathan Eovaldi expected to miss 4-6 weeks after elbow surgery.

Coming off a World Series win last fall, the Boston Red Sox are scuffling through April. The pitching staff has been particularly lackluster, and now the rotation is thinner with Nathan Eovaldi expected to miss 4-6 weeks after surgery to remove a “loose body” from his right elbow.

Eovaldi has a 6.00 ERA through four starts this season. But his most recent start last week against the New York Yankees was by far his best, as he allowed one run on three hits with six strikeouts and one walk over six innings. He was placed on the injured list last Saturday, and now the momentum of a good outing is even further gone.

Eovaldi was traded to Boston by the Tampa Bay Rays last July, and posted a 3.33 ERA (2.88 FIP) over 12 regular season appearances (11 starts) for the Red Sox. Then he had a 1.61 ERA during the postseason, taking his lone loss in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3 of the World Series against the Dodgers.

The Red Sox rewarded Eovaldi for his postseason contributions with a four-year, $68 million contract during the offseason. This is also not his first elbow surgery, having undergone a similar procedure just last year when he was with the Rays.

Prior to the deal he got from the Red Sox, Eovaldi never had a multi-year contract in his career. One-year deals, at times in lieu of arbitration, and club options were the norm. The most he had made in one season was $5.6 million with the Yankees in 2016, and counting this year’s $17 million on the first year of his deal his career salary is $30.9 million. Over the next two years, he’ll more than double that number.

If there can be such a thing — with the dreaded name of Tommy John not in play — Eovaldi is having minor elbow surgery and his immediate outlook could be much worse.

With a career regular-season record below .500 (44-53) and a career ERA north of 4.00 (4.21), the Red Sox paid Eovaldi at the clear peak of his value. But as pitchers risk serious arm injury every time they take the mound, teams are forced to embrace risk when they give out big multi-year deals.

Eovaldi was able to strike while his iron was hot, and he locked in life-altering money. Leaving aside any further elbow issues, it was probably his only chance to cash in on anywhere near that level. Whatever side of the player vs. team spectrum you’re on, Eovaldi is another case for athletes to get paid while they can, regardless of the sport.

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