4:35PM: The Cardinals, Phillies, and Twins are all interested in Hill, as per WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.
1:24PM: Most of the talk regarding the Red Sox in recent days has centered on designated hitter J.D. Martinez and the since-traded Christian Vazquez, but Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports that the Sox are open to dealing right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, though they’re not planning to simply take the best offer presented for him. Boston is, after all, still on the periphery of the Wild Card race — and Eovaldi represents a potential qualifying offer candidate. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic adds that lefty Rich Hill is “almost certainly in play” as well.
Eovaldi stands as one of the higher-profile names on the rental market. However, he’s a fairly pricey option, earning $17MM this season (with just over $6MM of that sum yet to be paid out), and has had some struggles since a June trip to the injured list. A back injury sidelined Eovaldi for a month, from June 12 through July 15, and the right-hander was torched for 16 earned runs in his first three starts upon returning — a total of just 13 innings.
Eovaldi held a potent Astros lineup scoreless through 6 1/3 frames last night, which may ease some concerns, but the right-hander’s fastball velocity has been down since sustaining that back injury. After averaging 96.9 mph on his heater from Opening Day through June 3, Eovaldi has an average of 94.5 mph on the pitch in his past five appearances — including a 94.3 mph average last night.
It bears emphasizing that even with the recent struggles, Eovaldi is sporting a respectable 4.11 ERA with a roughly average 23.1% strikeout rate, a brilliant 4.3% walk rate and an above-average 47.8% grounder rate. Interested parties will surely place a premium, to some extent, on the right-hander’s considerable postseason resume as well. Eovaldi was an absolute juggernaut in the 2018 playoffs, propelling the Red Sox to a World Series victory with 22 1/3 innings of 1.61 ERA ball. He stumbled in the 2021 ALCS against the Astros, but Eovaldi nonetheless has a career 3.14 ERA and 41-to-8 K/BB ratio in 43 postseason frames.
As for the veteran Hill, he’s playing on a one-year, $5MM deal with some incentives that could reasonably boost the contract by another $500K to $1MM. Hill’s incentives package kicks in at 110 innings pitched, and he’s currently at 70 2/3 frames on the year. In that time, he’s pitched to a 4.20 ERA with a 19.5% strikeout rate and 7.7% walk rate. He’s averaging under five innings per start, so it’s unlikely he reaches the 150- and 160-innings thresholds at which his most lucrative bonuses are slated to kick in, but he stands a decent chance of upping that salary a bit if he can remain healthy.