A sentence from Buster Olney’s column this morning stuck out like a glowing, radioactive thumb:
The Royals fully expect to open next season with Joakim Soria as their closer — which makes sense, because to offer up Soria now would be to try to extract value in the middle of a buyers’ market for relievers. There are many, many alternatives available.
I know there are a lot of relievers available, but in a world when Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell are landing a combined $77 million — at a minimum — it’s hard for me to fathom what things would look like if it was a seller’s market.
There’s an obvious supply/demand mismatch going on here. Olney is right that there are a lot of relievers floating around, but man, they are raking it in. If I was the Royals I’d see what crazy-sauce-drinking GM would be willing to offer me for Soria.
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.