Nate Jones entered camp as the favorite to take over as the White Sox closer. A mid-February glute strain threatened to complicate matters, but the right-hander now appears to be back on track.
Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports that Jones threw his third bullpen session of the spring on Wednesday and experienced no lingering discomfort in his backside. “It’s completely gone,” Jones said of the glute strain. “They just want to take it as slow as possible because we still have playing time in the spring. That’s why we have increased it just a little at a time. … We’re still doing fine and once we start playing the games I think I’ll be right where I need to be.”
Jones, 28, owns a cool 3.31 career ERA and 154 strikeouts in 149 2/3 major league innings.
The White Sox traded former closer Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks in December.
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.