Robert Murray of The Athletic reports that negotiations between the Red Sox and free agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi are “intensifying.” Fancred’s Jon Heyman backs up Murray’s report, adding that he heard the current asking price is four years at $17 million per year.
It comes as no surprise that Eovaldi is using his strong 2018 campaign to attempt to command a four-year deal. The right-hander, who split his season between the Rays and Red Sox, posted a 3.81 ERA with a 101/20 K/BB ratio in 111 innings during the regular season. Eovaldi was aces for the Red Sox in the postseason, tossing 22 1/3 innings of 1.61 ERA ball, including a sterling six-inning relief performance in Game 3 of the World Series against the Dodgers, a game that lasted 18 innings.
Eovaldi is still on the right side of 30 years old, but banking on him to stay healthy over the course of a four-year deal is certainly a gamble. Eovaldi underwent Tommy John surgery in his junior year of high school, then underwent a second TJ surgery in August 2016. He missed the final seven weeks of the 2016 season, the entire 2017 season, and the first two months of the 2018 season. Eovaldi has only twice in his seven-year career crossed the 25-start threshold.
As I mentioned yesterday, however, the free agent market for starting pitching is weak now that Patrick Corbin is off the board. Eovaldi is on a short list of free agent starters that teams can point to and say he would make a noticeable impact. Those other pitchers include Dallas Keuchel, J.A. Happ, and Charlie Morton. Most teams are going to have to upgrade their rotations via trade. Teams that can’t or won’t may just have to agree to those four years for Eovaldi and others.