Mark Prior allowed just one run while striking out 11 batters in 7.2 innings this spring, but his comeback will have to continue in the low minors after the Yankees assigned him to Single-A yesterday.
Prior’s minor-league contract with the Yankees includes an opt-out clause that would allow him to become a free agent if not satisfied with his situation at a later date.
However, the 29-year-old former All-Star told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com that he has “no intention of using it”:
I want to be here. I’m still a part of this organization and I truly want to help this ball club win. And I think I can do that. I think I probably surprised a lot of people that I can still kind of hold my own at this level and I know I can. I know my stuff is not what it was, and I don’t expect it to be, but I know it’s good enough to play at this level still.
For now he’ll have to prove that he can dominate inexperienced hitters a decade his junior. Prior blitzed through the minors so quickly while coming up through the Cubs’ system that he has a grand total of just four career starts at Single-A, the most recent of which came in 2006.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.