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Report: Phillies pursued Nathan Eovaldi as a closer

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The Red Sox signed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi to a four-year, $67.5 million contract last week to pitch out of the starting rotation. Before that, however, the Phillies made an offer to Eovaldi with him closing out games in mind, Jayson Stark of The Athletic reports. Eovaldi chose the Red Sox in part because his preference is to pitch out of the rotation going forward.

Eovaldi, 28, made his 2018 season debut on May 30 after recovering from elbow surgery that caused him to miss the final seven weeks of the 2016 campaign and all of 2017. Between the Rays and Red Sox, the right-hander posted a 3.81 ERA with 101 strikeouts and 20 walks in 111 innings. Eovaldi really shined in the postseason for the Red Sox, making two starts and four relief appearances with a 1.61 ERA and a 16/3 K/BB ratio in 22 1/3 innings.

The Phillies continue to pursue bullpen help after having acquired José Álvarez from the Angels in exchange for Luis García last week. Reports have indicated that the club is also interested in the likes of Andrew Miller and Zach Britton. The Phillies’ bullpen wasn’t altogether terrible last season, but was very inconsistent. Closer Seranthony Dominguez, in particular, finished with a 2.95 ERA but was sometimes unhittable and othertimes extremely hittable. Dominguez is only 24 so the Phillies likely prefer someone with more experience closing as they attempt to finally compete in the NL East after several years of rebuilding.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?