After Drew Pomeranz’s pretty rough return to the rotation this week, it was as clear as ever that the Boston Red Sox needed help in the rotation. Until Chris Sale can start every game (and don’t think he wouldn’t if it was possible), the Red Sox still have to put out four other starting pitchers between Sale Days.
While nowhere near as great as Sale has been, both Rick Porcello and David Price have been pretty solid as the No. 2 and No. 3 starters. Eduardo Rodriguez was a great No. 4 starter (and was probably more akin to the No. 3 role) before he recently hit the DL. After that, the rotation has been a bit of a mess. Pomeranz has been nowhere near where he was a year ago, Steven Wright has dealt with injuries, Brian Johnson has been serviceable at best and Hector Velazquez has transitioned into a bullpen role primarily.
What that all meant was the Red Sox were on the hunt for a starting pitcher on the trade market and they got one yesterday when they traded for Nathan Eovaldi. However, was it a deal that really had to be made? It could go either way. Even with a starting rotation made up of Sale, Porcello, Price and whoever is healthy, the Red Sox have the best record in baseball and its not particularly close. At XX-XX, they are X games up on the second place Yankees and cruising toward a postseason berth. Once they get to the postseason, having a fourth starter will no longer be as big a priority. So why give up on Jalen Beeks for Eovaldi?
The right-hander certainly has things going for him, as Nick Cafardo detailed in the Boston Globe, but there are also several reasons to be concerned. Eovaldi, who will be a free agent after this season, missed all of 2017 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery and has still been just about league average (93 ERA+) this year. For context, he had an ERA+ below 100 in each of his last three season as well.
There is still plenty of reason to be hopeful and some think Eovaldi was the best arm on the market, but giving up Beeks for what will most likely be less than half a season of a No. 4 starter isn’t a move the Sox had to make. If they did nothing at the deadline they would still be favorites to win the AL East and contend for the World Series. Adding Eovaldi helps, but just how much is up for debate.
A lot of my own trepidation and how others evaluate this deal is based on differing opinions about Beeks. The left-hander is 25-years-old, so he is leaving prime prospect age, and despite strong numbers in the minors, he hasn’t really made much of a positive impact at the big league level.
Trading prospects, even ones leaving that status, for proven commodities is something a team like the Red Sox can afford to do. Believing too much in prospects is a dangerous way to run a team. The Sox need to win today and Beeks isn’t going to help, while Eovaldi can. To that end, this could very well be a beautiful move from Red Sox’s front office as they are able to unload a once top(ish) prospect for a serviceable big leaguer. In reality this deal has much more chance of being a good one (or at least a neutral one) than a disaster. Eovaldi just needs to keep being an average pitcher and stabilize the rotation for it to be worth it.
I’m not the only person with thoughts on the Eovaldi trade. (Chad Jennings; The Athletic) ($$)
Here are some more. (Jeff Sullivan; FanGraphs)
The trade for Eovaldi isn’t necessarily the only deal the Red Sox will make before the deadline. (Jason Mastrodonato; Boston Herald)
Now back to last night’s baseball game. Oh wait. (Chris Cotillo; MassLive)
As noted, Drew Pomeranz had a bad start on Tuesday. (Matthew Kory; The Athletic) ($$)
Buck Showalter is a fan of Steve Pearce. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)