Next week, MLB owners are expected to vote and unanimously approve a five-year extension for commissioner Rob Manfred, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports.
Manfred, 60, was elected to succeed Bud Selig in August 2014 and officially took over in January 2015. Major League Baseball has achieved record revenues during his tenure. He has also made noteworthy changes to pace of play rules. A new collective bargaining agreement was also ratified which has thus far worked out well for ownership. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Manfred will be unanimously approved to spend at least another five years at the helm.
Nightengale notes that additional rules are expected to be discussed between Manfred and the owners including more pace of play improvements such as a pitch clock, as well as potentially limiting shifts and pitching changes. The league could also make a rule to discourage the use of “openers,” a strategy popularized by the Rays this past season in which a traditional reliever starts a game but quickly yields to a starting pitcher once he has gotten through a certain portion of the opposing lineup.
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.