Other teams are showing more interest in Nathan Eovaldi than the level currently displayed by the Red Sox, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.
Eovaldi, who turns 33 in February, became a free agent last month after the four-year, $68 million million deal he signed in December 2018 expired. Shortly before he hit the open market, the Red Sox extended Eovaldi a $19.65 million qualifying offer in addition to a multi-year contract offer. The right-hander rejected both.
Since the Red Sox did issue a qualifying offer to Eovaldi, they would receive draft pick compensation if he were to sign elsewhere. The fact that the 32-year-old is tied to the forfeiture of draft pick(s) could be what is suppressing his market.
The clubs that are interested in Eovaldi are viewed as potential contenders, per Bradford. The Mets were believed to be in the mix for the righty’s services but have since bolstered their starting rotation by signing Justin Verlander and Kodai Senga. The same can be said to some degree about the Blue Jays as well.
The Red Sox, for their part, “would still like to add a starter or two,” according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. As things stand now, candidates for Boston’s Opening Day starting rotation next year include Nick Pivetta, Brayan Bello, Chris Sale, James Paxton, Garrett Whitlock, and maybe even Tanner Houck.
In order to supplement that group, the Sox have pursued starting pitching this offseason. They made offers to left-hander Andrew Heaney and right-hander Zach Eflin, who both elected to sign elsewhere so that they can pitch closer to home. They have also been in contact with Corey Kluber and the aforementioned Senga, who reportedly agreed to a five-year, $75 million deal with the Mets late Saturday night.
At the Winter Meetings in San Diego last week, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters (including Cotillo and Bradford) that the Red Sox were looking to add consistency to their rotation and that they were interested in bringing back Eovaldi.
“I think everybody knows the situation,” Bloom said. “There has been contact and there has been mutual desire for him to come back here. But nothing to report on that front.”
Originally acquired from the Rays ahead of the 2018 trade deadline, Eovaldi has proven to be a key member of the Red Sox’ starting rotation when healthy over the last 4 1/2 years. After an injury-marred 2019, Eovaldi pitched to a 3.72 ERA during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. He then enjoyed a career year in 2021 by posting a 3.75 ERA in 32 starts (182 2/3 innings), making his first All-Star team, and finishing fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting.
This past season, Eovaldi was limited to just 20 starts due to lower back and right shoulder inflammation. Over 109 1/3 innings of work, Eovaldi flashed diminished fastball velocity but still produced a respectable 3.87 ERA and 103:20 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His 4.4 percent walk rate ranked in the 95th percentile of the league, per Baseball Savant.
(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)