The latest word — and I suspect final word — in the Bill James Twitter controversy was just had. It came from the Boston Red Sox, for whom James works.
To remind you, James last night called players overpaid and, when it was suggested that some were underpaid, he sarcastically said “my heart bleeds for them.” He went on to say “If the players all retired tomorrow, we would replace them, the game would go on; in three years it would make no difference whatsoever . . . The players are NOT the game, any more than the beer vendors are.”
The players union issued a statement condemning James’ comments this morning. A few minutes ago the Red Sox followed suit:
That’s exactly what you would expect the Red Sox to say. Even if, as I suspect, James and the Red Sox are more aligned regarding their opinions about player value than their public positions would indicate. Like I mentioned earlier today, James’ transgression was not a case of a member of management holding a view of workers that is appalling, it’s that he said it out loud.
The players know the owners would, if they could, replace them with low-paid replacements. The owners know that, practically speaking, they cannot do that, because the product would stink and people would stop showing up. As such, they don’t say things like James says because to do so would only serve to antagonize people.
Anyway: back to a free agent market which hasn’t seen any major free agents sign yet.
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.