It’s a busy afternoon in Queens, as the Mets have released reliever Jose Valverde and fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens.
Valverde never secured the closer gig in New York, but he was reasonably effective before an ugly outing today–or at least as effective as the Mets could have possibly expected him to be–with a 4.05 ERA and 23/9 K/BB ratio in 20 innings. He gave up four runs today to inflate that ERA to 5.66.
Hudgens, meanwhile, takes the fall for an offense that currently ranks 14th among NL teams in OPS but is actually tied for fifth in runs per game with 3.92, just slightly below the league average of 3.95. Hitting coaches are notoriously tough to evaluate or analyze, but the Mets’ lineup isn’t exactly filled with high-upside bats.
This was his fourth season as the Mets’ hitting coach and in the previous three years the lineup ranked 11th, 12th, and 6th in runs scored among NL teams, so considering the lack of results he certainly got a lengthy leash. Minor league hitting coordinator Lamar Johnson has been named as Hudgens’ replacement.
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.