Sold on Rangers' vision, Eovaldi ready for '23

January 5th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- Rangers general manager Chris Young has excelled at selling a certain vision to free agents in his two offseasons at the head of baseball operations. The vision seems simple. Everybody wants to win a World Series and build a championship organization.

Alvin, Texas, native Nathan Eovaldi was the most recent example of that, and he said as much when the Rangers formally introduced the 32-year-old right-hander at Globe Life Field on Thursday. Eovaldi agreed to a two-year, $34 million contract with the club.

“I think it's about the way the ownership has been going about building the organization,” Eovaldi said. “I think from the ground up, it takes more than just the 40-man guys. It takes the entire organization and they feel that they want to win. As far as this season, they were able to get [Jacob deGrom and Andrew Heaney]. One of the biggest needs was pitching. We have an abundance of starting pitching … I just think it's now time to show and prove to the guys that are already here that we can compete and that we can win.”

Eovaldi has a point. The Rangers have basically bought an entirely new rotation this offseason, with the addition of himself, deGrom and Heaney and the retention of Martín Pérez on the qualifying offer. The four join Jon Gray, who signed a four-year, $56 million deal last winter, and Jake Odorizzi, who was acquired via trade with the Braves, plus Dane Dunning, Glenn Otto and Cole Ragans as depth pieces.

When Young saw the rotation as a weakness going into 2023, he took every step necessary to remedy the issues and then added more depth on top of it.

“I think it's just the vision that they have, again,” Eovaldi said of how he was sold on the Rangers. “They went out and they addressed the issues that they had last season. I would say that they did everything they could in adding to the starting rotation. I view starting pitching as the key to winning a championship.”

Eovaldi brings two important keys that the Rangers were lacking in the rotation last season: depth and experience. An 11-year MLB veteran, Eovaldi was an American League All-Star in 2021, when he finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting.

In 2022 with the Red Sox, he went 6-3 with a 3.87 ERA as he was limited to just 109 1/3 innings (20 starts) with two injured list stints. Even so, among pitchers with a minimum of 100 innings, Eovaldi ranked among AL leaders in strikeout-to-walk rate (8th, 5.15) and walks per nine innings (9th, 1.65) and road ERA (9th, 2.64).

That more than improves upon another figure Young emphasized this winter: more strikeouts and fewer walks. In 2022, the Rangers' rotation ranked 26th (2.26 ERA ) in MLB in strikeout-to-walk rate.

“He’s got tremendous stuff, tremendous command, he throws strikes, he attacks the strike zone -- it's [an] aggressive mindset, '' Young said of Eovaldi. “And even just having conversations with him about the type of pitcher he is, the way he thinks about the game, the intellect, the competitiveness ... I think that he really fits all the criteria that we look for that we want our pitchers to be.”

When asked to evaluate his career-best 2021 season and how he could replicate that in his debut year with the Rangers, Eovaldi noted his success hinged on consistency in his mechanics.

“With my mechanics, I felt really secure the entire time. And [in 2022], I had a few injuries and a few hiccups down the road and I just felt like I never could get back on track mechanically,” Eovaldi said. “And when I did, I ended up getting hurt again. So I felt like I had a lot of inconsistencies last year. I would just say my mechanics were the key thing for me and that's part of the reason I'm so excited to be over here and have the technology and the sports science lab just to get that instant feedback from an outing.”

Now joining a star-studded rotation, Eovaldi is confident in his ability to go out and pitch every fifth day, while also providing the Rangers' clubhouse with guidance and leadership going into what should be a competitive season.

“I’d say I’m a lead by example type,” Eovaldi said. “I try to make sure I do everything right. I take a lot of pride when I come into the field. The Rangers are putting a lot of faith in me to come out there and take the ball every start. That's what I want to be able to do, go out there and compete for the fans and get to show them that we can win.”