Brazil became the final qualifier for the World Baseball Classic by emerging from a four-team pool that also included Colombia, Nicaragua, and Panama.
They defeated Panama in last night’s pool-deciding game, at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama, which was a pretty huge upset and a very thrilling 1-0 game that saw 39-year-old former big leaguer Ruben Rivera strike out to end things.
Brazil’s roster includes just one big leaguer, Indians role player Yan Gomes, and they’re managed by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin. Gomes drove in the game’s only run last night with a bloop hit and afterward Larkin said: “It’s good to be good and it’s good to be lucky. We are a little bit of both today.”
Panama’s roster included major leaguers (or former major leaguers) Rivera, Carlos Lee, Carlos Ruiz, Manny Acosta, Ruben Tejada, Manuel Corpas, Ramiro Mendoza, and Jose Macias.
Brazil joins Canada, Chinese Taipei, and Spain in qualifying for the WBC through pool play, joining the 12 teams that received automatic bids.
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.