If there was any doubt as to the Red Sox’ desire to bring back Nathan Eovaldi after his strong run with the club late in 2018, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski put it to rest in comments today. As Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com was among those to report, Dombrowski confirmed that the organization has been engaged with Eovaldi’s camp this winter — though he also cautioned that “there’s a lot of interest” in the righty leaguewide. How far the Sox will go in the bidding remains to be seen, but Dombrowski said that Eovaldi is “a guy that we love.” With only a few major needs to be accounted for, the defending World Series champs seem a prime potential landing spot — as we predicted at the outset of the offseason.
- The Padres also have interest in Eovaldi, per Dennis Lin of The Athletic (via Twitter). It has long been rumored that the San Diego club would hunt for starting pitching this winter, but the injury-prone, high-octane 28-year-old would make for a particularly interesting target. After all, numerous big spenders (see above) are in the fray. For the budget-conscious Friars, beating the market for Eovaldi would surely mean taking on a rather significant risk. Perhaps that’s part of a more general strategy for a team that has plenty of interesting arms filtering through the system and is looking to move toward contention now while adding players who’ll contribute for some time to come. The San Diego franchise has also kicked around trade concepts with the Mets on Noah Syndergaard and, as Lin notes, already agreed to a hefty two-year pact with Garrett Richards in hopes he’ll recover and turn in a strong 2020 campaign.
- Even as Eovaldi draws plenty of interest it seems the early market will be driven by Patrick Corbin, the excellent lefty who just completed a tour of several big-spending east-coast clubs. The Nationals, Yankees, and Phillies still profile as the likeliest landing spots, Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets, though he notes that other teams are still in the mix. A decision, in any event, still seems to come sooner than later. Yankees GM Brian Cashman made clear that his organization is a serious pursuer of a hurler with deep ties to the region in an interview this evening with Jack Curry of the YES Network (write-up via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch). “We’re doing everything in our power to put ourselves in position to be a legitimate consideration,” says Cashman, who calls Corbin “a special talent.” This sort of public endorsement obviously won’t decide the matter, but it surely indicates that the Yankees are engaged in a full press.
- The trade side of the starting pitching market remains somewhat more difficult to assess at this stage, but the Indians still seem to be driving the bus (at least unless and until we learn more about the seriousness of the Mets’ intentions regarding Syndergaard). MLB.com’s Jon Morosi suggests on Twitter that the Cleveland org will likely wait until there has been some movement at the upper levels of free agency before moving Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer, though it’s not entirely clear why that’d necessarily be the case. At the moment, Morosi adds in a subsequent tweet, the Braves are not actively engaged on either hurler. Of course, it’d likely be unwise to rule out the Atlanta club at this stage, given its assortment of intriguing young talent and desire to add a frontline rotation piece.
- Veteran reliever Joakim Soria is drawing interest from at least a handful of clubs at this early stage of the free agent market, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets. The Diamondbacks, Angels, Yankees, Braves, and Reds are all involved to some extent, per the report, representing an interesting slate of organizations. While the New York and Atlanta clubs are clearly in position to add veteran talent in a bid to repeat their postseason appearances from 2018, the other teams listed by Chavez are in somewhat less-certain positions in respect to the open market. The Los Angeles and Cincinnati ballclubs are surely interested in spending to contend, but will need to choose their targets wisely. Meanwhile, Arizona is exploring sell-side deals while also trying to achieve value with new investments. That Soria appeals to all of these teams seems to suggest that the league believes the 34-year-old has plenty left in the tank. And for good reason: he just wrapped up a campaign in which he spun 60 2/3 innings of 3.12 ERA ball, with a healthy 11.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 along with a personal-best 14.4% swinging-strike rate.
- Free agent southpaw Derek Holland is drawing multi-year interest, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). It’s all but impossible to gauge his true market at this stage, with some bigger dominoes still to fall, but it stands to reason that he’d make some degree of sense for a fairly broad group of clubs. At the outset of this year’s hot stove market, we guessed Holland could warrant a two-year, $15MM commitment. Though there are obvious limits to his value at 32 years of age, Holland did finally break out of a multi-year malaise with a strong 2018 campaign in which he contributed 171 1/3 frames and worked to a 3.57 ERA — his first full season of sub-4.00 ball since way back in 2013.