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Scattered thoughts on the Nate Eovaldi acquisition

Looking at the trade from all angles

Tampa Bay Rays v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

I didn’t get a chance to do too much on the Nate Eovaldi trade after it went down on Wednesday, so I’m just going to spend this morning tackling the deal from all sides. Phil already covered the pros and cons of the deal in his links post this morning, so I’ll keep things a bit simpler with a few scattered thoughts that have carried over roughly 24 hours after the deal was completed.

  • First of all, Eovaldi is a clear upgrade over what the Red Sox already had. The righty was a total wildcard coming into the year having missed all of 2017, but he’s shown he can still pitch at a high level. His 4.26 ERA and 4.30 FIP don’t look great, but he’s striking out plenty of batters (8.4 per nine innings) with fewer than two walks per nine. Despite a bit of a home run problem, he’s been great by DRA with a 2.99 mark that is 33 percent better than league-average after adjusting for park effects. Among the 178 pitchers with at least 50 innings, Eovaldi ranks 27th in DRA-. All of that being said, he’s only made ten starts this year so the sample is far from definitive.
  • Still, I’m confident in saying he’s better than the revolving door Boston could have had in the fifth spot of their rotation. As an added bonus, finding a right-handed starter was important for this team. Generally, I’m of the opinion that balance of handedness in the rotation is not super important, and still believe that. Just find the best pitchers you can and go from there. That being said, all other things being equal a right-handed addition made the most since given the lineups in both New York and Houston. Eovaldi certainly won’t be expected to shut down either group in any given outing, but he’ll have the platoon advantage against most of those teams’ best hitters.
  • One has to imagine Drew Pomeranz’ less-than-impressive outing on Tuesday played a role in this getting done. If he had pitched well with better velocity it would have been easier to live with the current group, but at this point it’s impossible to expect much from Pomeranz. For some reason, however, he’s staying in the rotation over Brian Johnson. Now, given the former’s more veteran presence it’s not a terribly surprising decision, but there’s little-to-no reason to have more confidence in Pomeranz than Johnson right now. Hopefully they are no afraid to make a quick switch here.
  • Right now the top four in the rotation is pretty straight forward with Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price and Eovaldi, and in my opinion five should be straight forward with Johnson too. Things will get interesting if/when Eduardo Rodriguez and/or Steven Wright return, however. It might lead to awkwardness in the regular season, but it could provide a big boost in the postseason. At least one of Eovaldi, Rodriguez or Price would end up in the bullpen, and all three of them could be major weapons in that role.
  • As for the other side of this trade, from what little I’ve seen in reaction to this deal it appears there are two extremes. On one side are people happy that the Red Sox gave up Jalen Beeks, who has been deemed a Quad-A pitcher after a couple bad outings at the major-league level. On the other side are people upset to give up a top ten prospect for a rental. I think, as is usually the case in these situations, the answer is in the middle. I’ve always been a Beeks fan and think he will turn into a good back-end arm for Tampa, particularly since they won’t be afraid to lift him early in games. For a smaller guy, that is important. On the other hand, Eovaldi is a known quantity and the Red Sox need that as a team going for it right now. There’s a scenario in which we look back and regret this deal if Beeks takes another leap forward, but more likely is that the Rays got a good-not-great piece and the Red Sox got a short-term help in a World Series hunt.
  • So, overall, I’d give this deal a B. This isn’t some sort of coup and the Red Sox did give up some value, but ultimately they got a piece who will help now and Eovaldi makes this team closer to a World Series title rather than farther away.