Bryce Harper has to be considered the favorite to win the NL Final Vote for the last spot on the All-Star team, but he said after Sunday’s game that, “I’d vote for Chipper.”
Harper and Chipper Jones are in the mix along with Michael Bourn, Aaron Hill and David Freese in the Final Vote, but really, it figures to be a two-man race. In typical buddy-cop-movie fashion, it’s the brash, young rookie versus the weary veteran a few months away from retirement.
Ideally, there’d be room for both, and if Matt Kemp is forced to skip the game with his hamstring injury, as seems likely, perhaps there will be. Harper, though, thinks Chipper should go to one last game at age 40. Jones has been to seven All-Star Games, including last year’s. At .292/.375/.455, he’s been plenty productive this year, though he’s played in just 44 games. Harper is hitting .274/.348/.471 in 57 games.
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.