It seems like a decade ago, but Ryan Franklin actually began this season as the Cardinals’ closer.
He blew four of his first five save chances to quickly lose the job and then spent two months pitching sparingly in a mop-up role before the Cardinals released the 38-year-old veteran in late June.
Franklin never latched on with another team and attended last night’s game as a fan, telling Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he’s leaning toward retirement:
I know if it started tomorrow I’d be leaning toward staying around the house. It was pretty neat to be able to take my kids on their first day of school. My wife thought so, too.
If he wants to stop playing but still remain in the game it sounds like Franklin could join the Cardinals’ front office, with Strauss reporting that general manager John Mozeliak frequently consulted Franklin about various personnel decisions over the years and has remained in contact with him since the release.
In a season that has seen eight different pitchers save at least one game for the Cardinals, including extended closer stints for Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez, Mitchell Boggs, and now Jason Motte, it’s worth remembering that it all started with Franklin filling the role after saving 82 games in the previous three years.
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.