Red Sox owner John Henry answered the calls for Bobby Valentine’s dismissal with an email sent to WEEI’s Rob Bradford and others Monday:
I’ve gotten questions about Bobby and about ownership from you so I’ll say the following on the record.
To blame Bobby Valentine for the Red Sox being .500 at this point in the season is simply wrong. A lot has been written about injuries to key players this year. The impact of that on the Sox this year should not be discounted.
Later on the in the email, Henry added that, “We are not making a change in manager.”
Which is probably for the best; if the Red Sox let Valentine go now, it’d suggest the inmates are running the asylum. Valentine has been a pretty good in-game manager for Boston since some early bumps in the road when he was trying to figure out how to utilize his closer-less bullpen, and given the number of injuries they’ve had, it’s hard to argue that the Red Sox have underachieved.
Whether Valentine should be invited back next year is the better question. The Boston clubhouse doesn’t seem like a very happy environment at the moment, and while that can’t be all Valentine’s fault, he’s not exactly one to unify the players (unless it’s in rallying them against himself). His early public comments on Kevin Youkilis certainly didn’t help the former All-Star turn it around, and the Red Sox eventually had little choice but to make a choice between Valentine and Youkilis, resulting in the terrible trade that sent Youkilis to Chicago.
Personally, I think the Red Sox should remove Valentine in the offseason and bring in more of a players’ manager in his place. Making the switch now would send the wrong message, though.
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.