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Source: Some clubs eyeing Nathan Eovaldi as closer

Rob Bradford
November 19, 2018 - 7:13 am

When Nathan Eovaldi was trying to find his groove during the second part of August and September it was suggested by some in the industry that perhaps the bullpen might be a better fit for the hard-throwing right-hander. But then came the pitcher's dominance in October and it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Eovaldi would be hitting the free agent market strictly as a starter.

But while it is still likely whichever team locks up the services of Eovaldi this offseason it will be with the intention of starting the 28-year-old, some clubs haven't given up on the idea of adjusting the righty's role.

According to a major league source, multiple teams have expressed interest in signing Eovaldi with the intention of making him their closer.

If there wasn't that postseason run -- which saw Eovaldi allow just three runs over 13 innings in his two playoff starts, while also turning in the memorable six-inning, one-run relief outing against the Dodgers -- the conversation might be different. But it seems, for now, the pitcher would rather make starting pitching a priority.

"I'm going into this as if I'm a starter," Eovaldi said on the "30 with Murti" podcast. "I love starting, preparing for that one day. If I need to be a closer and that role opens up, I would also like to do that, too. I've never had an opportunity to close and didn't have much relief work until the postseason this year. I enjoyed my time down there, as well. But I would like to stay in the starting rotation."

Eovaldi has started all but 12 of his 156 major league regular season appearances.

While Eovaldi is drawing interest to do a variety of roles, another Red Sox free agent, Joe Kelly, is seemingly locked into the job he performed in 2018. According to a source, the teams expressing interest in the free agent hurler have done so exclusively with relieving in mind. Kelly said after the season he would be open to returning to the world of starting pitching, which he hasn't done regularly since the beginning of the 2016 season.

Related: 'Everyone and their mother' expressing interest in Eovaldi