So let’s try to get this straight: we’re all happy that Nathan Eovaldi is back with the Red Sox. The Red Sox are a big-market team with a pile of money that can afford to overpay players. And the Eovaldi contract shouldn’t prevent the Red Sox from doing any business going forward.
But if we’re talking about value – and using historical comps – Eovaldi is now significantly overpaid.
In case you missed it, Eovaldi agreed to a four-year, $67.5 million deal on Thursday that will pay him an average of $16.875 million per season. In baseball’s current economic climate, that’s a reasonable amount for someone who projects to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter. The problem is that Eovaldi hasn’t really been that to this point in his career, so what the Red Sox are betting on is the future.
And that’s fine.
That said, let’s not delude ourselves about what Eovaldi has been to this point in his career: a journeyman who has had great raw stuff but never the ability to consistently produce. Since he began his career in 2011, Eovaldi has gone 44-53 with a 4.16 ERA in 850 innings. Since wins and losses can largely be a product of run support, let’s focus on the two stats that matter more – ERA and innings pitched.
Using Eovaldi’s totals for innings (850) and ERA (4.13) as a midpoint, we set parameters for pitchers from 2011-2018 with between 800-900 innings and ERA between 4.00 and 4.25. With the help of baseball-reference.com, Here’s the list we came up with:
Now, purely for the sake of argument, let’s examine the salaries for those players. We have listed both the highest single-season AAV (average annual value) for each player in addition to his biggest contract. Here’s what we found:
|Highest AAV||Biggest contract|
|Hector Santiago||$8 million||1 yr/$8 million|
|Brandon McCarthy||$12 million||4 yrs/$48 million|
|Aaron Harang||$9.125 million||4 yrs/$36.5 million|
|Miguel Gonzalez||$5.9 million||1 yr/$5.9 million|
|Dillon Gee||$5.3 million||1 yr/$5.3 million|
|Kevin Gausman||$5.6 million||1 yr/$5.6 million|
|Mike Fiers||$6 million||1 yr/$6 million|
|Scott Feldman||$10 million||3 yrs/$30 million|
|Nathan Eovaldi||$16.875 million||4 yrs/$67.5 million|
|Jorge De La Rosa||$12.5 million||2 yrs $25 million|
OK, so do you see what we’re getting at here? In the above list, no one is even close to Eovaldi – either in terms of AAV or contract length and value. And if we add up all of the deals for everyone other than Eovaldi, we come up with nine players, 18 years and $170.3 million, which is an average of roughly $9.5 million per season.
Translation: for the nine other players on the list, the average deal is two years and about $19 million.
Eovaldi got four years and $67.5 million.
Can anyone honestly say the Red Sox did anything but overpay?