Several times in the past few weeks Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has avoided saying that Frank Francisco has the closer job locked down following a rough 2012, but manger Terry Collins said just that yesterday.
“He is the closer,” Collins said, via Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. “We saw last year when he is right, he is good. I think he looks good. He is in the right frame of mind.”
Last year Francisco posted a 5.53 ERA in 42 innings, allowing opponents to hit .269 with a .791 OPS while walking 4.5 batters per nine innings, so “we saw last year when he is right, he is good” is some pretty strong manager-speak.
Francisco also underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow in December, but declared himself ready to go yesterday and made it clear that he’s confident in retaining ninth-inning duties. Of course, a better question might be how long Collins is willing to stick with Francisco should he struggle again, because with a $6.5 million salary giving him another chance as closer certainly isn’t shocking.
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.