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How Nathan Eovaldi and his maroon suit landed in Las Vegas

Rob Bradford
December 11, 2018 - 2:50 pm

LAS VEGAS -- Two years ago it was Rich Hill, the journeyman lefty in his mid-30's, who had punctuated a remarkable comeback story by sitting in front of the assembled media at the MLB winter meetings to announce his three-year contract.

Monday it was Nathan Eovaldi's turn.

"It's hard to explain," said Eovaldi moments after going through the winter meetings car wash, taking a few final minutes to talk to WEEI.com before heading to the airport. "I guess I haven't realized just how big it is yet."

The path Eovaldi took to get into this conversation has been well-documented, with that postseason run and World Series heroics pushing him into what would be a four-year deal worth just under $70 million. It was how he ultimately landed at Mandalay Bay in the suit heard around the baseball world that should be noted.

A couple things jump out.

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the most notable moment in Eovaldi's offseason journey came when he answered perhaps the most important question posed by his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson: If a rebuilding organization was willing to go to five years would he be interested? With a flurry of clubs circling the pitcher, with some (like the Phillies) exploring the idea of having the righty close, it was a query had lingered.

But finally last week Eovaldi passed on the word: He was going to prioritize winning over an extra year.

With the teams whittled down to Houston (which wasn't as strong a candidate as some thought), the Angels, the Yankees and Washington -- with none of the teams willing to go past four years -- Eovaldi's desire to return the Red Sox grew stronger by the day. And some creative online recruitment my teammates and fans didn't hurt either.

Fortnite games, particularly with David Price, became a message board specifically for the free agent.

"I’ve been struggling lately. I’ll give Price that. He’s been doing really good," Eovaldi said of the online games with his rotation-mate. "He’s been grinding a lot at home. I don’t know if he’s getting any sleep at night. He wakes up in the morning and he plays all day and all night.

"I was playing a lot during the season. I haven’t been able to play that much. I’ve been busy, especially with all of this that has been going on now. Now that the signing is over hopefully we’ll be back on the grind."

While nailing Christmas lights to his roof in Texas Eovaldi got on the phone and finalized the deal with the Red Sox. That left one item to attend to -- the suit.

He contacted his guy, Sean Vokhshoor of Zohreh Uomo Inc. in New York City. (Ironically, the shop is a staple when it comes to outfitting the Yankees.) A plan was hatched.

"I told him I was coming to get a maroons color suit. It's almost red," Eovaldi said. "It was perfect time to wear it."

Hard to argue.

"This was all fun to be a part of," he said before heading back to Texas, "but I don't think it has set in yet."

Related: Bradford: Dustin Pedroia's biggest battle yet

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