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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.

Cubs have considered trading Ben Zobrist

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The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma reports that the Cubs have considered trading super-utilityman Ben Zobrist in order to free up payroll space, which would allow the club to address other areas of the roster.

Zobrist, 37, is entering the final year of his contract and will earn $12 million in 2019. According to Cot’s Contracts, the Cubs project to have an Opening Day payroll of about $204.5 million, just a hair below the luxury tax threshold of $206 million. The Cubs have notably been absent from the free agent marketplace, particularly involving Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, due to luxury tax concerns.

Last season, Zobrist hit .305/.378/.440 with nine home runs, 58 RBI, and 67 runs scored in 520 plate appearances. He played all over the field, logging 100-plus innings in both outfield corners and second base while also spending a handful of games at first base. With Addison Russell serving a 40-game suspension to open the 2019 season, Javier Báez will handle shortstop and Zobrist figures to be the starting second baseman.