C.J. Wilson may be the most desirable starting pitcher on the free agent market this offseason and the Nationals will apparently be among the teams interested in the Rangers left-hander.
Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that “the Nationals have sent a scout to Oakland to watch” Wilson tonight against the A’s and “it’s not a secret that Washington is looking to add starting pitching.”
Wilson logged 204 innings with a 3.35 ERA after talking his way into Texas’ rotation last year and this season he’s upped his strikeouts and cut his walks while throwing 215 innings with a 2.98 ERA.
At age 31 he’s still relatively young for someone hitting the open market and among all pitchers with at least 50 starts since the beginning of last season Wilson ranks 16th in ERA (3.16), sandwiched between fellow southpaws CC Sabathia (3.10) and Jon Lester (3.20), and he’s also 19th in FIP.
Wilson added to the mix along with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann could give the Nationals a playoff-caliber front three of the rotation, but would it leave enough money to put together a playoff-caliber everything else?
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.