Nathan Eovaldi
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Report: Negotiations between Red Sox, Nathan Eovaldi ‘intensifying’

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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.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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