This afternoon the Red Sox officially introduced Ryan Dempster, who signed a two-year, $26.5 million deal last week, but Mike Napoli’s reported three-year, $39 million contract has yet to become official and general manager Ben Cherington didn’t have much to say about it.
“There’s really nothing to comment on,” Cherington said, via Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “As with any free agent, until it’s done, it’s not done. We continue to work on different ways to improve the team. I’ll comment on it as soon as I can, but I can’t right now.”
There’s been lots of speculation about the source of the delay with Napoli, who originally agreed to the deal way back on December 3. When asked it the team continues to be in the mix for different first basemen without Napoli officially under contract Cherington replied: “Sure, we’ve got to keep active. Until something is done, it’s not done. Even then we can’t be blind to trying to improve the team in other ways.”
So, basically … who knows. Obviously there’s something holding up the Napoli deal nearly three weeks later and the natural assumption is that it’s health-related, perhaps causing the Red Sox to try to rework some aspects of the contract. But so far at least there’s no indication that either side is going to back out of the deal.
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.