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The strong case to invest in Nathan Eovaldi

Rob Bradford
November 02, 2018 - 10:25 am

Back in 2007, the sign held up by Red Sox players along the parade route read "Re-sign Mike Lowell." The third baseman was a free agent-to-be, coming off a World Series MVP and viewed by his teammates as a central cog to helping them repeat.

The 2018 version? David Price's Instagram offered that answer.

Can’t win without him!! #letsgooooo #MVP

A post shared by David Price (@davidprice14) on

A few months ago the idea of re-signing Nathan Eovaldi hardly seemed a priority or a reality. 

The righty pitcher was trudging through August and September trying to find what ailed him after having set the Red Sox' world on fire with two scoreless outings to begin his tenure in Boston. But then came the postseason.

When the World Series run was all said and done Eovaldi had compiled 1.61 ERA in six appearances, allowing four earned runs over 22 1/3 innings while striking out 16, walking just three and holding opponents to a measly .185 batting average. There were two dominant starts. The most pressure-packed of relief innings. And a standing ovation following his epic six innings in Game 3.

It all left quite an impression and made the 28-year-old a lot of money.

So, what now for Eovaldi? It would be easy to simply surmise that the Red Sox are going to step aside during this free agent period and let the pitcher get his payday. They do, after all, already have plenty of cash tied up in a starting rotation that will include David Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello next season. But there is a strong case to be made to allocate whatever funds are needed to keep the postseason hero.

First off, understand there is going to be plenty of competition for Eovaldi's services. Not only did he flash unworldly stuff during his Red Sox run, but he is heading into the open market as the youngest starting pitching option, about six months younger than the next youngest top-of-the-line free agent starter (Patrick Corbin) and just eight months older than next offseason's prize, Gerrit Cole.

He has thrown more than 4,000 fewer pitches than free agent Dallas Keuchel and is seven years the junior of J.A. Happ. For a historic free agent class, when it comes to starting pitching there really aren't a lot of candidates who can make the case Eovaldi can.

So, knowing that it would cost the Red Sox a boatload of money why should the resources be allocated to Eovaldi? Easy. Not only did this pitcher prove he can do it on the biggest stage while pitching in a Red Sox uniform, but he also offered the image of something this team is going to need -- a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.

Re-signing Chris Sale and/or Rick Porcello are iffy propositions at best for a variety of reasons. Eduardo Rodriguez still has a lot to prove. You're going to have look deep into the minor-league system to find any potential help for the rotation, and those names don't figure to be truly blossoming in the major leagues for a good chunk of years down the road. Maybe you can find a trade partner to fill the bill, but the option to dangle the likes of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech has come and gone, with few trade candidates representing the certainty of performance Eovaldi offered.

Is it somewhat of a risk? Of course. Eovaldi has had two Tommy John surgeries. A year ago he was still recovering from No. 2.

When asked about the idea of having the pitcher back Dave Dombrowski gave the old, "would love to have him back." This should be more than lip service. 

Parades or no parades, this is a player the Red Sox should flex their financial muscles for.

Related: The Carson Smith era is over with the Red Sox