Mazz: Red Sox shouldn't overpay to keep Nathan Eovaldi

Sep 18, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (17) pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

A word of caution to the Red Sox: we all like Nathan Eovaldi. You should keep him.

But don’t do anything stupid.

According to recent media reports, talks on Eovaldi have heated up in recent days with the news that Patrick Corbin has signed with the Washington Nationals. The Yankees are among the teams now said to be interested in Eovaldi, who pitched well for the Red Sox in both the regular season and, especially, the playoffs. The Houston Astros are also among Eovaldi’s serious suitors.

Do the math. New York, Houston, Boston. Those were the top three teams in the American League last year. And they’re all vying for the same guy.

And so ask yourself this question: is Nathan Eovaldi the piece that will alter the hierarchy in the AL in 2019?

And as much as we love Eovaldi for what he gave the Sox in 2019, the answer is no.

Here’s the point: in Monday's Boston Globe, beat reporter Peter Abraham wrote the following: "The Red Sox need a reliable starting pitcher to fill out their rotation and the 28-year-old Eovaldi is just that."

But is he? Eovaldi has made at least 30 starts in a season just once in his career. In seven major league seasons, he is 44-53 with a 4.16 ERA. Baseball-Reference.com projects Eovaldi to be 7-7 with a 4.06 ERA in 113 innings in 2019.

Before people get their backs up, nobody is picking on the Globe or Abraham, who does a good job. This is about Eovaldi and how we view him in the wake of his postseason heroics. Eovaldi is worth somewhere around three years and $40 million, though he’s probably going to get more than that. Free agency is what it is. Everybody gets overpaid and Eovaldi might very well end up with four years and $60 million or more.

Which is fine. Good for him for striking while the iron is hot.

But let’s be honest. Steve Pearce was a good acquisition for the 2018 Red Sox, too, and he re-signed for one year and $6.25 million. And some of us questioned that move. The bottom line is that guys like Pearce and Eovaldi should be available at every trading deadline, because baseball is littered with specialists who hit left-handed pitching (Pearce) or hard-throwing pitchers who have never reached their potential (Eovaldi, at the time).

Admittedly, Eovaldi is a little different because of his ability to throw hard and throw strikes. As a big-market team that can absorb $12-$15 million annually if something goes wrong, the Sox should extend themselves for that. But if the Eovaldi bidding gets stupid and the Sox lose out, let’s not get ridiculous. Eovaldi was a good get for Dave Dombrowski last season and he’d be a good guy to keep.

But he has done nothing in his career to suggest he’s “reliable.”

And he’s certainly not indispensable.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.