Eovaldi signs 2-year, $34M deal with Rangers

Contract includes third-year player option for veteran starting pitcher

December 28th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers wanted more depth in their starting rotation for 2023. Once they started adding, they never seemed to stop.

Right-hander has agreed to a two-year, $34 million contract with the Rangers, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. The deal includes a third-year vesting player option along with performance bonuses.

Eovaldi will join a rotation that includes Jacob deGrom, who signed a five-year deal with Texas earlier this month. In 2022, Eovaldi spent two stints on the injured list, limiting him to 20 starts. He went 6-3 with a 3.87 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP.

“He’s got tremendous stuff, tremendous command, he throws strikes, he attacks the strike zone -- it's [an] aggressive mindset, '' general manager Chris Young said of Eovaldi. “And even just having conversations with him over the last 48 hours 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. I think he's going to set a great example for a lot of our young guys that are going to be coming along with the other pitchers that we have on staff.”

According to the source, the deal includes a bonus of $3 million per year for reaching 160 innings pitched. The $20 million option for 2025 vests with 300 innings across the next two seasons, with another $3 million of incentives. Eovaldi will have a base salary of $16 million in both '23 and '24, plus a $2 million signing bonus. The deal can max out at $63 million.

Because he rejected a qualifying offer from Boston, the Rangers will also give up Draft-pick compensation for signing Eovaldi. To make room on the 40-man roster, right-hander Nick Mears was designated for assignment.

Depth in the rotation was just as important for the Rangers as securing a bona fide ace in deGrom this offseason. Eovaldi will join Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, Martín Pérez and potentially Jake Odorizzi in the newly formed rotation behind deGrom.

Dane Dunning, Glenn Otto and Cole Ragans all slot in as additional depth, with Owen White (No. 4 Rangers prospect, per MLB Pipeline) and Cole Winn (No. 10) waiting in the wings with Triple-A Round Rock. It’s the most depth that Texas has seen in the rotation in years.

New manager Bruce Bochy said in early December that a six-man rotation was not in discussion, but he wasn’t opposed to the idea in the right situation.

That depth is even more important considering the health concerns of the six potential starters. Of the six -- deGrom, Gray, Heaney, Pérez, Odorizzi and now Eovaldi -- Pérez is the only one who did not land on the IL in 2022.

• deGrom: 64 1/3 IP in 2022 (126 ERA+
• Gray: 127 1/3 IP (99 ERA+) 
• Pérez: 196 1/3 IP (136 ERA+)
• Heaney: 72 2/3 IP (136 ERA+) 
• Eovaldi: 109 1/3 IP (109 ERA+) 
• Odorizzi: 106 1/3 IP (90 ERA+)

“I think what we're focused on is the best way to keep them healthy,” Young said of the rotation. "And certainly our medical team has signed off on every player. So we're confident in understanding the player, the person, to make up the injury history so that we can put each player on a program that's going to give them the best chance to stay healthy. But injuries are part of the game. We recognize that. But I think that we're prepared to deal with that based on the depth that we have in our rotation.”

When Eovaldi was acquired by the Red Sox at the 2018 Trade Deadline, he was known as a player who had a hard time reaching his potential due to an extensive history of injuries.

But it all came together for Eovaldi that summer and fall. In the postseason, Eovaldi, backed by consistent 100 mph heat, played a key role in Boston’s World Series title. The “Nasty Nate” moniker fit as Eovaldi notched key road victories at Yankee Stadium in the American League Division Series and Houston’s Minute Maid Park in the AL Championship Series.

Then came the World Series, when Eovaldi was dominant in setup relief while helping Boston to wins in the first two games over the Dodgers in Fenway Park.

He was scheduled to start Game 4 of that Fall Classic, only to wind up pitching six innings in the 18-inning epic that was Game 3. Though Eovaldi gave up the walk-off homer to Max Muncy, he was considered a hero by his teammates, who gave him a standing ovation as he walked into the clubhouse. The Red Sox wound up winning in six games over Los Angeles.

Eovaldi was a free agent that fall, but the Red Sox rewarded him for his postseason excellence with a four-year, $68 million contract.

Eovaldi has pitched in 240 games (221 starts) in his career, going 67-68 with a 4.16 ERA.

The Dodgers selected Eovaldi out of Alvin (Texas) High School in the 11th round of the 2008 Draft. That was the same high school Rangers legend Nolan Ryan attended. At the time, Eovaldi was coming off Tommy John surgery.

Eovaldi made his MLB debut for his original franchise in 2011, but pitched in only 20 games for the Dodgers before getting dealt to the Marlins in '12 for a package that included Hanley Ramírez.

After three unspectacular seasons in Miami, Eovaldi was traded to the Yankees following the 2014 season. He broke out with the best season of his career in his first season with New York, going 14-3 in 27 starts.

However, Eovaldi had to undergo a second Tommy John surgery after his second season in New York and didn’t pitch at all in 2017.

He landed with the Rays for the 2018 season and performed well enough for the Red Sox to make him a priority at the Trade Deadline. That wound up being a turning point in a career that should still have some productive years left for the 32-year-old.

The Rangers finished 22nd in MLB with a 4.22 team ERA in 2022, only a slight improvement from 23rd (4.79 ERA) the previous year. The club has no doubt upgraded in that area, but every addition to the roster this offseason has been on the pitching end.

Acquiring another bat has been mentioned multiple times by general manager Chris Young and Bochy this winter, especially for a team that slashed a combined .239/.301/.395, but for now, depth in the rotation continues to take prominence.

“I think the most obvious areas that we'll continue to look to explore are our bullpen and our outfield,” Young said. “But as I said all along, we'll always remain open minded on any way we can improve our roster.”