At long last, Carl Crawford is ready to play in a baseball game again.
According to Maureen Mullen of CSNNE.com, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said today that Crawford is expected to serve as the designated hitter Saturday with the organization’s Gulf Coast League affiliate.
Crawford began this season on the disabled list following January surgery on his left wrist and then suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. If he uses the maximum 20 days on his rehab stint, which appears likely given the long layoff, that puts him on track to return when the Red Sox begin the second half of the season on July 13 against the Rays.
Crawford is in his second season of a seven-year, $142 million contract. The 30-year-old is looking to rebound after delivering a disappointing .255/.289/.405 batting line and a .694 OPS last year.
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.