Marc Topkin reports that Joe Maddon is concerned about two Rays players currently in the WBC. One because he’s working too much, the other because he’s not working enough.
Closer Fernando Rodney has pitched in all six games, closing five, over 10 days for the Dominican Republic. On the other hand, catcher Jose Molina has had only three plate appearances for Puerto Rico backing up his little brother Yadier.
Not sure that Molina’s lack of playing time should be such a concern. Wear and tear on a catcher over the course of a season can be considerable, even when that catcher is one of the seemingly indestructible Molina brothers. And while I suppose rust at the plate is a concern, it’s not like Molina hasn’t spent most of his career as a backup catcher anyway, for whom at bats have always been few and far between. And let’s be honest: what’s the inactivity gonna do? Sap his status as an offensive juggernaut? The guy is a career .238/.286/.355 hitter. Can it really get much worse?
As for Rodney: those six games are on top of three spring training games he tossed for the Rays before the WBC began. Scanning around the league, closers who are not in the WBC have typically pitched in four games so far, though some have pitched in as many as seven. They’re different kind of innings — stressful vs. stress free, basically — but it’s not like Rodney is on another planet. And it’s not as if Rodney has had any games in which he’s labored or thrown a ton of pitches.
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.