Nathan Eovaldi is signed, following in the steps of Eduardo Nunez and Steve Pearce, both of whom re-upped for another run at a ring. The Eovaldi deal has to be one both sides love. For Nathan, he’s had multiple arm surgeries and at times, his career outlook was dark. Now he’s going to earn $68 million over the next four years. For Boston, they get their dude back. Everyone across the country heard about Eovaldi and what he was doing in the postseason for the Red Sox.
From the 102 mph fastballs with movement to pitching six innings out of the bullpen, it was a treat to watch Nasty Nate do his thing.
So what happens now?
The high payroll is well documented. This would likely signal the end of the Sox relationship with closer Craig Kimbrel, but nothing is certain yet. What is certain, is that the Red Sox are beginning to run out of room to spend this offseason.
They already have a record-setting payroll, and are still without someone to pitch the ninth inning. The next task for GM Dave Dombrowski, is to free up a little bit more money to sign a piece for the bullpen, or two. One of Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart will likely be on their way out the door. The Sox got away with this sub-par trio of a catching dilemma in 2018, but it is definitely something that needs to be sorted out.
I believe it is also a possibility that Rick Porcello is quietly shopped this offseason. Nothing against Rick, he’s pitched well since coming to Boston and was solid in both a starting and bullpen role this last October. However, with Sale and Price firmly ahead of him in the depth chart, and Eovaldi hot on his tail, he could be an expendable asset for Boston.
If the hierarchy of this team is confident about Eduardo Rodriguez coming back in full health, this might be the move to make. It would free up Porcello’s 21 million dollars in 2018, which could be redirected to Kimbrel, or another top ninth-inning target.
Adam Ottavino is an option from the outside to be the new closer. He revitalized his career in Colorado last season, and could be as effective as Kimbrel, for a cheaper price. Whether that Porcello money is freed up or not, Ottavino should be getting a long look from Dombrowski and Co.
As far as in-house options go, a couple names come to mind. Bringing back Joe Kelly is number one. He has the Boston attitude, he can pitch in clutch situations, and he wouldn’t cost a fortune. If the Red Sox would rather sign a couple free agents for the middle of the bullpen, Matt Barnes would be another plausible option. He was sixth of all relievers in baseball for strikeouts in 2018, and was a huge part of the bullpen for the stretch run.
Other free agents like David Robertson, Kelvin Herrera, Brad Brach, Cody Allen and Joakim Soria, all are solid candidates for a seventh or eighth inning role. All of these pitchers are veterans with some form of postseason experience. Whomever are left on the table once the Sox have signed a closer, should be worth an extra look.
Once the Red Sox figure out their closer situation, the offseason moves will likely be close to completed. This team obviously didn’t have a drastic amount to improve upon, but freeing up a little money to get a solid closer and a quality middle reliever, might be the move.
Featured photo courtesy of the official Red Sox twitter @RedSox
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