Rumors

Phillies reportedly interested in Red Sox free-agent Nathan Eovaldi



Nathan Eovaldi is coming off of a strong postseason for the World Champion Boston Red Sox. (Keith Allison)

During the postseason, Boston Red Sox RHP Nathan Eovaldi demonstrated what could be a best-case scenario for Philadelphia Phillies righty Nick Pivetta – a legitimate middle-of-the-rotation option for a World Series contender that’s also capable of throwing smoke out of the bullpen when called upon.

While the Red Sox World Series run may have given the Phillies a blueprint on how to handle Pivetta moving forward, it appears they are also interested in the pitcher that provided said blueprint.

According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, general manager Matt Klentak and the Phillies are among a large group of teams interested in Eovaldi, a free-agent:

The early suitors are the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, Angels, Red Sox, White Sox, Blue Jays, Padres, and Giants. There’s likely to be more. Eovaldi would love to stay in Boston and the Red Sox will take their best shot.

Eovaldi, who will be 29 in February, combined to go 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA, a 3.60 FIP and a 2.2 fWAR in 22 games, 21 of which were starts, between the Tampa Bay Rays and Red Sox in 2018. In the postseason, the former 11th round pick became a uniquely valuable weapon for Red Sox manager Alex Cora, in his quest to get the ball to closer Craig Kimbrel. Eovaldi appeared in six games – two of which were starts – for the Red Sox in the postseason, tallying a 1.61 ERA and 0.81 WHIP.

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Eovaldi will land a four-year/$60 million free-agent contract. Given that the Phillies could use an upgrade in the middle-of-the-rotation, FanGraphs says Eovaldi’s regular season production was worth $18 million in 2018 and that he’s proven to be able to thrive out of the bullpen in the postseason, signing Eovaldi for four years at an average annual value of $15 million could prove to be a steal. He could just be hitting his stride as a starter, and also has the ability to pitch out of the back-end of the bullpen.

It is fair to have some worries about Eovaldi’s ability to stay healthy, however. Eovaldi has twice had Tommy John surgery. After missing the entire 2017 season recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi didn’t make his 2018 debut until May 30, after loose bodies in his elbow forced him to have arthroscopic surgery just prior to the start of the regular season. The good news is that his average fastball velocity in 2018 with the Rays and Red Sox was 97.5 MPH, right in line with the 97.9 MPH average that he had in 2016 while pitching for the New York Yankees. But his health history, along with the fact that the Red Sox regularly asked him to pitch on short rest in the postseason, could scare some teams off.

Whether it’s Eovaldi or not, it does appear that the Phillies hope to add a veteran starter this offseason to pair with Aaron Nola at the top of their rotation. MLB.com‘s Jon Morosi reported Friday that the Phillies have shown interest in former Arizona Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin, who finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2018. Corbin joins former American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel and former Phillie J.A. Happ as notable left-handed pitching free-agents, with president Andy MacPhail saying in his end-of-season press conference that he hoped for the Phillies to become more left-handed.

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