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.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.