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Dombrowski not looking to spend big on closer

Kimbrel all but certain to move on from World Series champions
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAS VEGAS -- As the Red Sox plot their various possibilities at the closing position for next season, the one thing that seems all but certain is that free agent Craig Kimbrel will be pitching the ninth inning elsewhere.

With a payroll projected to be at close to $220 million for the roster as presently constituted, Kimbrel is likely to be too expensive to remain with the World Series champions.

LAS VEGAS -- As the Red Sox plot their various possibilities at the closing position for next season, the one thing that seems all but certain is that free agent Craig Kimbrel will be pitching the ninth inning elsewhere.

With a payroll projected to be at close to $220 million for the roster as presently constituted, Kimbrel is likely to be too expensive to remain with the World Series champions.

At the first day of the Winter Meetings on Monday, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was asked if he had a deadline to move on from Kimbrel. His answer was telling.

"No, not really. When I say that we're not going to be overly aggressive with big expenditures, I do not think think [we will] for our relief closer at this point," said Dombrowski. "Our payroll is pretty high at this point. Without getting specific on him, we're not looking to make a big expenditure in that area. So read that as you may. There are some rules and regulations in that regard, what you can say and what you can't say as far as free-agent players are concerned."

Dombrowski also said the Red Sox won't necessarily wait to see what happens with Kimbrel before filling the closer's spot.

If the Red Sox had not been successful in re-signing Nathan Eovaldi, there might have been more of a chance for Kimbrel to come back. But Dombrowski prioritized Eovaldi and signed him to a four-year, $68 million deal last week.

Eovaldi: Sox were at 'top of my list of teams'

Dombrowski will now try to find some more cost-effective ways to shore up a bullpen that is likely to lose one of the best closers in the game.

"Well, it's a risk," Dombrowski said. "There's no question. I can't say that it's not, but it's a 162-game season also. If it's something that you need to look at later, you can do that."

There are a plethora of relievers available on the free-agent market -- many who have prior closing experience. The list includes Andrew Miller, Adam Ottavino, David Robertson, Zach Britton, Jeurys Familia, Kelvin Herrera, Bud Norris and Brad Brach. There is also Joe Kelly, who pitched the last four-and-a-half seasons with the Red Sox and was a standout performer in the 2018 postseason.

"I think we're willing to see what happens," Dombrowski said. "It's the law of supply and demand. Again, there's a lot of guys. I know that there are clubs looking for relievers. We'll keep abreast of the situation. We talk to agents all the time. Talked to them today. [Assistant general manager] Brian O'Halloran talks to them all the time."

The possibility is also very real that the Red Sox will promote an internal candidate to the closer's role. Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier have both been mentioned as possibilities.

"Sometimes you have to give guys opportunity, but there's a risk associated. I don't want to say that there's not, but is it a risk worth taking," Dombrowski said. "Yes, if it comes down to it. But we're not at that point of making that decision, too."

Sale throwing, expected to be a full go in '19

The re-signing of Kelly would be significant for the Red Sox, given the way he proved definitively he can come through in the most pressurized moments. If Kelly does come back, he would probably return to his familiar setup role.

Where do things stand with Kelly and the Red Sox?

"We're aware of what's going on with his situation. That's really where we are," Dombrowski said.

How soon will the Red Sox know who their closer is for 2019?

It could happen in the coming weeks, or maybe even at the Winter Meetings. Or maybe it doesn't happen until late in Spring Training.

"I'm fine with the guys we have," said manager Alex Cora. "Obviously with Barnes and Brasier, we feel comfortable they can get outs late in games. I'm comfortable with the guys right now. We don't have to name a closer going into Spring Training."

The likelihood that Kimbrel will move on isn't just a reflection of Boston's 2019 payroll, but the fact that Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, Rick Porcello, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. can all be free agents within the next two years.

If the Red Sox do sign a closer, expect the deal to be of the short-term variety.

"It's not going to be possible to keep everybody that we have," Dombrowski said. "You have to realize that if anybody is signed long-term now, it may have an effect on some other things that you may do later on. Sometimes there may be some scenarios, but we're more interested in a short-term deal at this time.

"That changes, because some of our conversations with our own internal players change, too. But we're cognizant of a couple of really important guys that we want to keep for the long-term that are going to be free agents within the next year or two. That is in the back of our mind."

Aside from keeping tabs on the relief market, Dombrowski also acknowledged that the Red Sox could move one of their three catchers (Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez or Blake Swihart) in a trade. The club carried all three catchers on the roster throughout 2018, including in the postseason.

"We have talked to clubs about them," Dombrowski said. "You can see there are other catchers out there. There are big-name catchers out there, and usually when that happens a lot of clubs are talking about them first. But, yeah, there has been some interest in our guys. Our philosophy is the same way.

"Ideally we would rather, nothing against any of the three, but it's hard to carry all three on the big league club. But we're also not going to give them away to give them away."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Craig Kimbrel

Eovaldi: Sox were at 'top of my list of teams'

Right-hander's work ethic made big impression with champs
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAS VEGAS -- When one of Nathan Eovaldi's representatives called him last week to tell him that his four-year, $68 million contract with the Red Sox was complete, the World Series hero was on the roof of his Texas home installing his Christmas lights.

That phone call was an early Christmas presents of sorts -- and the kind of deal Eovaldi never could have imagined when he was undergoing a second Tommy John surgery just over two years ago.

LAS VEGAS -- When one of Nathan Eovaldi's representatives called him last week to tell him that his four-year, $68 million contract with the Red Sox was complete, the World Series hero was on the roof of his Texas home installing his Christmas lights.

That phone call was an early Christmas presents of sorts -- and the kind of deal Eovaldi never could have imagined when he was undergoing a second Tommy John surgery just over two years ago.

And the fact that Eovaldi was putting the lights on his house rather than hiring someone to do it served as a sign that World Series stardom and a big payday won't change Eovaldi's most endearing quality -- his work ethic.

Video: Nathan Eovaldi on wanting to remain a starter

Eovaldi flew to Vegas on Monday -- a glitzy venue that doesn't suit his low-key personality at all -- for a press conference to discuss his return to the World Series champions.

Fittingly, the no-frills Eovaldi told agent Seth Levinson he was a little nervous to speak on stage in front of all the assembled media. Levinson laughed and said, "What do you mean? You have ice water in your veins."

Eovaldi proved that many times during this past postseason, and he's thrilled to be back with a Boston team he helped put over the top following his acquisition at the end of July.

"Yeah, the Red Sox were definitely at the top of my list of teams I would like to come back to and be a part of," Eovaldi said. "I think, just because of that experience that I had, I was only there for such a short amount of time, but the relationship that I was able to build with my teammates and fans and the coaching staff and things like that, I wasn't something I was ready to part ways with."

Eovaldi wore a maroon suit to celebrate his new deal

In typical Eovaldi fashion, he didn't make a show of his free agency. He told his representation that playing for a winning team was his sole priority and not to even negotiate with non-contenders. If Eovaldi had wavered from this, there's a chance he could have gotten a five-year deal.

Video: Tom Verducci on Eovaldi returning to the Red Sox

But all perceived non-contenders were informed they were out of the running, and a deal was quickly struck to bring Eovaldi back to a Boston team that is thrilled to have him back as part of a rotation that also includes Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Dombrowski not looking to spend big on closer

"When he came in, he bought into a concept," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "Throughout the regular season we made some adjustments as far as usage and the way he was attacking hitters, and I can't wait to see him again with us. He's going to be a huge part of this rotation, and he's a workaholic. He goes to the weight room, prepares; training room, same deal. He studies."

Video: Cora joins MLB Tonight to talk Eovaldi's effort in WS

Though Eovaldi's coming-out party was in 2018 for Cora and the Red Sox, some of his past managers were thrilled to see his hard work pay off -- both in October and in free agency.

"The stuff after two Tommy John [surgeries], the way the ball was coming out, his stuff was incredible," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who had Eovaldi with the Dodgers. "I think the one thing that always stood out about Nate was just this work ethic of the way this guy worked and worked and worked. And he was one of those guys that you were, like, if you're going to bet on anybody, it's betting on him.

Sale throwing, expected to be a full go in '19

"Those guys don't come along that often that have that type of work ethic, and they're just fierce in their work. So what stood out is really that he maintained the same stuff after two Tommy John [surgeries], and it was really good to see him have that kind of success. And you love seeing ... good things happen for guys that work like he did."

Tweet from @RedSox: Yes. pic.twitter.com/LotdRr1hQ5

Rays manager Kevin Cash had Eovaldi in his rotation for 10 starts in 2018, before he was traded to the Red Sox.

"So happy for him," said Cash. "I'm not too thrilled that he decided to stay in the division and sign back with the Red Sox, but we'll work around that. But watching him perform, we really got to know Nate Eovaldi in 2017, when he was hurt. And the way he came to the ballpark, the way he went about his rehab, the type of teammate he was, you can't help but pull for the guy. And then he had so much success for us and then he went on to Boston and the way he took the ball. And obviously the extra-inning game, it was fun to watch."

Yes, the extra-inning game. That would be the 18-inning epic the Red Sox lost in Game 3 of the World Series when Eovaldi somehow became the hero in defeat, firing six innings of relief and not giving an inch until Max Muncy finally walked him off.

Video: Eovaldi dominates out of bullpen in 2018 World Series

That performance vaulted Eovaldi to another level with both his teammates and the rabid fan base known as Red Sox Nation. To Eovaldi, he was just doing his job.

"As it was going on, no [I didn't realize it was a big deal]," Eovaldi said. "I'm really just the facts. I got the loss in that game, and I feel like I didn't do enough. Had I not walked that one batter, he wouldn't have been on first base, which led to the error which led to them being able to score. So I feel like I put a lot of that on myself. But now I understand. I see it now. Being able to go out there for the six innings in that situation, it's special to me still."

Video: WS2018 Gm3: Eovaldi goes 6-plus in admirable outing

Now, the Red Sox will do everything they can to keep the 28-year-old healthy. Cora had already been in contact with Eovaldi about usage patterns and a workout regimen even before the new deal was struck.

"I mean, he was kind of acting like I was already part of the team still," Eovaldi said. "I appreciated that because it kept my mind right knowing if I came back, the plan was already set in motion."

With Sale and Porcello eligible for free agency after next season, securing Eovaldi's services going forward was important.

"I think it's part of the equation, very important," said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "We know that there's a lot of question marks about long-term contracts for some of the members of our club. It's going to be a juggling act over the next several years. Again, we know we're not going to be able to sign everybody, but the more stability that's out there, the better off we are."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Nathan Eovaldi

Sale throwing, expected to be a full go in '19

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAS VEGAS -- Though the Red Sox never gave much explanation about the root of the left shoulder inflammation that kept Chris Sale on the disabled list for most of August and a big chunk of September, the ace isn't considered to be a health concern this winter.

"He's throwing," said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "He needs nothing else as far as medical is concerned."

LAS VEGAS -- Though the Red Sox never gave much explanation about the root of the left shoulder inflammation that kept Chris Sale on the disabled list for most of August and a big chunk of September, the ace isn't considered to be a health concern this winter.

"He's throwing," said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "He needs nothing else as far as medical is concerned."

Sale was last seen throwing a slider so nasty that Manny Machado wound up with one knee in the dirt as he whiffed feebly at the final pitch of the World Series.

Video: WS2018 Gm5: Sale strikes out the side to clinch WS

Dombrowski is confident Sale will be a full go in 2019.

"We have a pulse of it, but we're really not going to discuss it," said Dombrowski. "We have a real pulse of what took place."

Eovaldi: Sox were at 'top of my list of teams'

The reason the Red Sox don't want to provide details is because that is Sale's preference.

"Chris is an individual who is great, and we feel comfortable with him and all that, but he's not one that likes to share a bunch of information," said Dombrowski. "That's just the way it is, but we feel very comfortable where he is and he just wants to keep it between us."

The Red Sox have a plan to help Sale stay healthy in 2019. Perhaps part of it will be asking Sale to throttle it back with his velocity at times.

Dombrowski not looking to spend big on closer

"He's good at 95 [mph] with that slider, too," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "We know what we have. We know what we're going to do next year. I think we took care of him, and he knows it. [Trainer] Brad [Pearson] and Chris talked about it and they know next year, like Dave said, we have a pulse of the situation."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Chris Sale

Red Sox offer experiences in charity auction

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAS VEGAS -- In MLB's annual Winter Meetings charity auction, the Red Sox are offering some choice opportunities to give fans an up-close and personal experience.

This year's auction will support the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Negro Leagues Museum, two important institutions that educate future generations of young people through honoring significant moments and individuals of baseball's past.

LAS VEGAS -- In MLB's annual Winter Meetings charity auction, the Red Sox are offering some choice opportunities to give fans an up-close and personal experience.

This year's auction will support the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Negro Leagues Museum, two important institutions that educate future generations of young people through honoring significant moments and individuals of baseball's past.

Bid now in Red Sox charity auction

The auction is live on MLB.com/wintermeetingsauction through Thursday at 10 p.m. ET. Items include special baseball experiences, including meetings with some of the game's biggest stars, along with unique items donated by MLB and the 30 clubs.

One of the top items on the list: an opportunity for a child under the age of 12 to sit near the dugout during pregame ceremonies and walk the lineup cards out to the umpires prior to a game at Fenway Park. The winner and three guests will also get a meet and greet with American League Most Valuable Player Award winner Mookie Betts, premium tickets to a mutually agreed-upon game and a personalized message shown on the New Balance video board during that game.

Another great item for bid is four Green Monster Seat tickets and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch on a mutually agreed-upon game next season. The experience must be booked by March 1.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox

Eovaldi wore a maroon suit to celebrate his deal

On Thursday, the Red Sox and Nathan Eovaldi agreed to a deal that would keep the starter in Boston for four more years. He was vital to the team's 2018 World Series run after arriving from the Rays at the Trade Deadline, posting a 1.61 ERA in 22 1/3 postseason innings, including a heroic six-inning appearance out of the bullpen in Game 3 of the World Series against the Dodgers.

Red Sox enter Winter Meetings in enviable spot

Championship core largely intact as Dombrowski eyes upgrades
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski enters this year's Winter Meetings -- which start Monday at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas -- in a position of strength.

This isn't just because his club is coming off a magical 108-win season that concluded with a World Series championship. It's because Boston remains loaded with most players from its 2018 juggernaut still in the fold.

BOSTON -- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski enters this year's Winter Meetings -- which start Monday at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas -- in a position of strength.

This isn't just because his club is coming off a magical 108-win season that concluded with a World Series championship. It's because Boston remains loaded with most players from its 2018 juggernaut still in the fold.

For Dombrowski, this will be an entirely new experience compare to the last time he was coming off a World Series in 1997 with the Marlins. Twenty-one years ago, Dombrowski was ordered by owner Wayne Huizenga to strip the team of its most valuable assets and rebuild.

Thus far this offseason, Dombrowski has re-signed two free agents who were key to the club's success in 2018 in World Series MVP Award winner Steve Pearce and hard-throwing righty Nathan Eovaldi. Dombrowski will now examine external options to make a strong team even better.

Video: Rosenthal on Red Sox agreeing to deal with Eovaldi

Two key members of the Red Sox's championship squad remain unsigned -- Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly.

It's hard to imagine Kimbrel will return to Boston given what he is likely seeking on the free-agent market. But don't rule out Kelly coming back. He came up big in October and has a triple-digit fastball.

No matter what happens for the rest of the Hot Stove season, the Red Sox like where they stand.

"I do feel that we have a good team, very athletic, very versatile," manager Alex Cora said. "Wherever the offseason takes us, we're going to be fine, we're going to be good."

Video: Pearce talks about signing 1-year deal with Red Sox

Club needs
Dombrowski will likely be spending the bulk of his time at the Winter Meetings addressing the bullpen. Kimbrel, who was an All-Star in all three of his seasons with Boston, leaves some big spikes to fill in the ninth inning. The good news is that there is a plethora of relievers on the free-agent market.

Adam Ottavino, who was underrated with Colorado last season, is one name you should keep a close eye on. David Robertson, a righty who Red Sox fans are very familiar with from his time with the Yankees, could also be a solid replacement for Kimbrel as closer. How about a reunion with lefty Andrew Miller, who has been compromised by health woes the last couple of years?

Whom might they trade?
Blake Swihart, who was once regarded as Boston's catcher of the future, could be on the move this winter. The switch-hitter still has upside, which translates to trade value. He can also play first base and the corner-outfield spots. The Red Sox won't trade Swihart just to trade him. It would be to fill a particular need, such as shoring up the bullpen or replenishing the farm system.

Video: BOS@CLE: Swihart lines a solo homer to right field

Prospects to know
The three top hitting prospects in Boston's farm system are Michael Chavis (the team's top-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline), Triston Casas (No. 3) and Bobby Dalbec (No. 6). They all have a similarity aside from the fact they all hit for power. All three are corner infielders, which at least creates the possibility that the Red Sox could move one of them if they were able to acquire a cost-controllable impact reliever in a trade.

Given that pitching depth isn't the strength of the farm system at this point, the Red Sox will look to hold on to promising arms like Bryan Mata, Tanner Hauck and Mike Shawaryn. The team's top pitching prospect -- lefty Jay Groome -- won't pitch at all this season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Rule 5 Draft
Boston hasn't been a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft in years, and that isn't likely to change this season. The Red Sox's 40-man roster is at 39, but that will become 40 once the Eovaldi signing is official. As for who Boston might lose, keep an eye on power-hitter Josh Ockimey. The left-handed-hitting first baseman split the 2018 season between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, smacking 21 homers and notching an .811 OPS.

Payroll summary
Adding in Eovaldi's salary, the Red Sox are already at about $168 million in payroll for 2019. But roughly $56 million more could be added to the budget after the team completes the arbitration process with Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Rodriguez, Brock Holt, Sandy Leon, Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman, Steven Wright, Heath Hembree and Swihart. That means Boston is all but locked in to over $220 million for next season. Sensing a real chance to win another World Series with this roster, owner John Henry is likely to green-light his team going over the luxury-tax threshold for the second straight season. Look for Dombrowski to have enough flexibility to sign at least one impact reliever.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Nathan Eovaldi, Steve Pearce

JBJ, CC to visit London, promote 2019 series

MLB.com

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced Monday that Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia would travel to London, England, this week to help promote the 2019 London Series presented by Mitel. The pair of American League All-Stars will be representing their rival clubs while touring the city, visiting iconic sights and taking in the experiences of English Premier League soccer games.

Bradley Jr., an AL All-Star in 2016, was named the Most Valuable Player Award winner of the 2018 AL Championship Series en route to helping the Red Sox win their fourth World Series championship in the past 15 seasons. The 28-year-old, who was drafted by Boston with the 40th overall selection in the '11 Draft, claimed his first career AL Gold Glove Award in '18.

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced Monday that Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia would travel to London, England, this week to help promote the 2019 London Series presented by Mitel. The pair of American League All-Stars will be representing their rival clubs while touring the city, visiting iconic sights and taking in the experiences of English Premier League soccer games.

Bradley Jr., an AL All-Star in 2016, was named the Most Valuable Player Award winner of the 2018 AL Championship Series en route to helping the Red Sox win their fourth World Series championship in the past 15 seasons. The 28-year-old, who was drafted by Boston with the 40th overall selection in the '11 Draft, claimed his first career AL Gold Glove Award in '18.

"As an athlete who has been fortunate to play for the Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball, the ability to promote our sport on a world stage is an exciting opportunity," Bradley Jr. said. "I'm looking forward to our series in London in June 2019, and to bringing our storied rivalry against the New York Yankees to a new audience."

Sabathia, the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner and six-time All-Star, was a key component of the '09 World Series champion Yankees team. The 18-year-veteran has 246 career wins, which ranks second among all active pitchers. In addition, the 38-year-old left-hander leads all active Major League pitchers in strikeouts (2,986) and innings pitched (3,470).

"I'm excited for our series with Boston next summer, and I welcome the opportunity to promote our great sport and the history of our rivalry across the pond," said Sabathia. "I also love traveling, so being able to take in the sights and sounds of London while helping build momentum towards the first-ever Major League Baseball games to be played there is something I am embracing. Consider me the Yankees' advance scout for London." 

The long-time AL East Division rivals will participate in media opportunities on Friday, Dec. 14, including a product signing at the New Era Store in Central London and a visit to the Lords Cricket Ground. Sabathia will visit Etihad Stadium, the home of Manchester City FC, as they host Everton on Saturday, Dec. 15, while Bradley Jr. will travel to Liverpool on Sunday, Dec. 16, to see Liverpool FC take on Manchester United.

The 2019 London Series presented by Mitel is a two-game series taking place on June 29-30, 2019 at London Stadium. The Red Sox will play host to the Yankees in the first MLB games played in Europe. For more information regarding the Series, please visit mlb.com/londonseries.

Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Jackie Bradley Jr., CC Sabathia

Lefty Scott claimed on waivers by Reds

MLB.com

The Reds claimed left-hander Robby Scott off waivers from the Red Sox on Monday as the Winter Meetings opened in Las Vegas.

Scott, 29, appeared in nine games for Boston last season, going 0-1 with a 8.10 ERA in 6 2/3 innings. He pitched in 57 games as a rookie in 2017, all in relief, and went 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in 35 2/3 innings.

The Reds claimed left-hander Robby Scott off waivers from the Red Sox on Monday as the Winter Meetings opened in Las Vegas.

Scott, 29, appeared in nine games for Boston last season, going 0-1 with a 8.10 ERA in 6 2/3 innings. He pitched in 57 games as a rookie in 2017, all in relief, and went 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in 35 2/3 innings.

Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Robby Scott

Eovaldi turned dream October into big contract

MLB.com @MikeLupica

Nathan Eovaldi and the Red Sox came to terms on a new four-year, $68 million contract on Thursday, which means 2018 ends so much better for the right-hander than it began; it ends with him as one of the best and most important baseball stories of the year. This isn't just about the beauty of baseball. It is really about the beauty of sports, as long as you keep showing up.

Eovaldi, out of Alvin, Texas, Nolan Ryan's hometown, has already had two Tommy John surgeries, the first at Alvin High School when he was a junior. The second surgery came when he was with the Yankees, for whom he had gone 23-11 in 2015-16. They released him in November of '16, and on Feb. 14, the Rays signed him, knowing he would be sitting out the '17 season.

Nathan Eovaldi and the Red Sox came to terms on a new four-year, $68 million contract on Thursday, which means 2018 ends so much better for the right-hander than it began; it ends with him as one of the best and most important baseball stories of the year. This isn't just about the beauty of baseball. It is really about the beauty of sports, as long as you keep showing up.

Eovaldi, out of Alvin, Texas, Nolan Ryan's hometown, has already had two Tommy John surgeries, the first at Alvin High School when he was a junior. The second surgery came when he was with the Yankees, for whom he had gone 23-11 in 2015-16. They released him in November of '16, and on Feb. 14, the Rays signed him, knowing he would be sitting out the '17 season.

When Eovaldi was ready to pitch again this year, he was diagnosed with loose bodies in his right elbow on March 28, underwent arthroscopic surgery, and began the season on the disabled list, which by then had to feel like a second home. On July 25, four months after that surgery, the Rays traded him to the Red Sox. And two months after that, he was as much a pitching star of the postseason as David Price was.

Video: Nathan Eovaldi on joining the Red Sox via trade

Price was brilliant and memorable as he slayed his postseason dragons, winning the clinching game of the American League Championship Series against the Astros, then beating the Dodgers twice in the World Series, including in the decisive Game 5.

But Eovaldi was just as brilliant and every bit as memorable because of the six relief innings he pitched, and the 97 pitches he threw, in the 18-inning Game 3, before Max Muncy won that game with a walk-off home run.

In all ways, and even in defeat, it was the greatest relief pitching performance in the history of the World Series.

Price pitched 26 innings in the postseason, made six appearances (five starts), gave up 10 earned runs (three of which came at the hands of the Yankees in the Boston-New York AL Division Series) and struck out 23 batters. Eovaldi also made six appearances with two starts, pitched 22 1/3 innings, gave up just four earned runs and struck out 16. His ERA for his ALDS start against the Yankees was 1.29. Against the Astros in the ALCS, it was 2.45. In the World Series, it was 1.13.

When the lights were finally turned up for Eovaldi, as bright as they could ever be, there was no better pitcher in his sport -- not Price, not Justin Verlander, not Chris Sale. Not anybody.

Video: WS2018 Gm3: Eovaldi goes 6-plus in admirable outing

The other day I asked Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who made so many moves that put his team back on top, what he saw from Eovaldi in the summer, months before we all saw what he did in the fall.

"He's always had great stuff," Dombrowski said. "Once he came back from his injury with Tampa [Bay], he continued to throw the ball well. We thought he could start or relieve and would also be able to pitch in Boston in a pennant race. In addition, we felt if we made some adjustments with his mix of pitches, that could help him."

Eovaldi made 12 regular-season appearances -- 11 starts -- for the Red Sox. He broke in with seven scoreless innings against the Twins. His record was 3-3, his ERA was 3.33. He struck out 48 batters in 54 innings.

Video: BOS@NYY Gm3: Eovaldi hurls 7 stellar frames vs. Yanks

When manager Alex Cora gave him the ball in what was the biggest game of his life, at Yankee Stadium against the Yankees with the ALDS even at 1, Eovaldi pitched seven innings of one-run ball. His brilliance got lost, of course, because the Red Sox won, 16-1, that night. Eovaldi nearly gave up a home run to Aaron Judge in the first inning of that game. The ball fell short of the right-field seats. Eovaldi breezed after that. It turned out to be a preview of coming attractions, all the way through those 97 pitches at the end of Game 3, when Eovaldi seemed willing to pitch all night and nearly did.

Even with the ending in the bottom of the 18th, Muncy's home run, the Red Sox said afterward that Eovaldi's performance was the truest possible beginning of them winning the World Series.

Video: WS2018 Gm4: Holt, Kelly discuss Eovaldi's momentum

Eovaldi had pitched that way against the Dodgers, the team that originally signed him. The Alvin kid pitched the way he did against the Astros before that. Before that? He shut down the Yankees, the team that had released him two years before. This was Nathan Eovaldi's dream October. Now he gets paid for it, the kind of contract he had to think might be ever out of his reach after the second Tommy John surgery.

"He showed his abilities to all of us and continued to do so through the World Series," Dombrowski said. "He is a hard worker, strong as can be, and our medical team has cleared him for the four years."

Patrick Corbin just got more years and more money from the Nationals. No one meant more in October than Eovaldi did. A lot has happened to him across his baseball life. A lot has happened lately. He is still just 28 years old. Maybe the Red Sox still don't know whether he's a starter or reliever. Doesn't matter. What matters to the Sox is that they held on to him. The way Eovaldi held on to his dreams, no matter what. Guy keeps coming.

Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com.

Boston Red Sox, Nathan Eovaldi, David Price

Napoli, member of 2013 WS team, retires

Slugger debuted with Angels in '06, won '13 title with Red Sox
MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

Longtime slugger Mike Napoli announced his retirement Saturday via a statement released through his Twitter account.

"After much thought and consideration with my family, I have decided to retire from the game of baseball," Napoli said. "I dreamed about playing baseball since I was a little kid growing up in Hollywood, [Fla.], and I was lucky enough to get paid to play a kids game for 18 years."

Longtime slugger Mike Napoli announced his retirement Saturday via a statement released through his Twitter account.

"After much thought and consideration with my family, I have decided to retire from the game of baseball," Napoli said. "I dreamed about playing baseball since I was a little kid growing up in Hollywood, [Fla.], and I was lucky enough to get paid to play a kids game for 18 years."

Tweet from @MikeNapoli25: THANK YOU... pic.twitter.com/CzhaoU9YUH

Napoli, 37, was a free agent, and he hadn't suited up for a big league club since 2017, when he hit 29 home runs over 124 games for the Rangers. The former first baseman and catcher signed a Minor League deal with the Indians last spring, but he tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee during a Triple-A game in April and underwent season-ending surgery.

Napoli began his MLB career with the Angels in 2006 and played for four franchises over a 12-year span.

Video: Mike Napoli cranks 8 postseason home runs

"I was blessed to be mentored by great people at the beginning of my career with the Angels and was able to bring that winning attitude to each clubhouse that I was fortunate to be a part of," Napoli said. "I hope to be remembered as someone who always tried to keep the clubhouse atmosphere light and inclusive, making sure that everyone was respected by his peers while leading by example, both on and off the field.

"Most importantly, I am proudest of positively affecting people's lives and putting smiles on people's faces by simply being myself, reflecting the way I was brought up in South Florida."

Napoli's grit and professionalism endeared him to several fan bases, most notably in Cleveland where his powerful swings to the left-field seats inspired the "Party at Napoli's" catchphrase. The 2012 All-Star finishes his career with 267 homers and 744 RBIs while having played in three World Series, including Boston's championship run in '13.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels, Mike Napoli

Every team's Winter Meetings wish list

MLB clubs head to Las Vegas next week for annual summit
MLB.com @_dadler

Baseball's annual Winter Meetings are set to begin on Monday in Las Vegas, and that means Hot Stove season is about to really kick into high gear.

There have already been some big moves this offseason -- the Yankees' trade for James Paxton, the Mets' trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano, the Nationals' signing of Patrick Corbin, the Cardinals' trade for Paul Goldschmidt -- but that's only the beginning.

Baseball's annual Winter Meetings are set to begin on Monday in Las Vegas, and that means Hot Stove season is about to really kick into high gear.

There have already been some big moves this offseason -- the Yankees' trade for James Paxton, the Mets' trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano, the Nationals' signing of Patrick Corbin, the Cardinals' trade for Paul Goldschmidt -- but that's only the beginning.

When the industry gathers at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, it'll be a chance for teams to set deals in motion and maybe make a big splash or two. What might those be this year? MLB.com is previewing the Winter Meetings right here.

Here are the biggest needs for each of the 30 MLB clubs entering the Winter Meetings.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays
A rotation with a lot of question marks beyond Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez means Toronto needs arms. And those two starters might even draw trade offers, as they're each under control for only two more seasons. More >

Orioles
New general manager Mike Elias has his work cut out for him, as there's a lot the O's need. Besides a new manager and coaching staff, the biggest needs include a middle infielder to pair with Jonathan Villar, a third baseman and multiple outfielders. More >

Rays
The Rays are casting a wide net this offseason in their search for potential impact acquisitions on the trade and free-agent markets. They're looking to add a veteran starter and a hitter to a young core that won 90 games in 2018. More >

Red Sox
The World Series champs have already brought back Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi. But Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly are also free agents, which leaves the bullpen as the top priority. Relievers like Adam Ottavino, David Robertson and Andrew Miller will be on the table. More >

Video: MLB Tonight on Eovaldi re-signing with Red Sox

Yankees
The Yankees want one more starter to go with Paxton and the returning CC Sabathia. They want to preserve their deep bullpen, too, with Robertson and Zach Britton being free agents. There's also the Didi Gregorius-sized hole at shortstop, as he'll be recovering from Tommy John surgery. Manny Machado, anyone? More >

AL CENTRAL

Indians
The Indians could be on the verge of some franchise-altering moves. They've traded All-Star catcher Yan Gomes and could deal starters Trevor Bauer or Corey Kluber or some of their top Minor League prospects to address needs elsewhere on the roster, such as the outfield and their bullpen. More >

Video: Will the Indians trade a pitcher at Winter Meetings?

Royals
The Royals' weakest area in 2018 was the relief corps, so that'll be the focus entering the Winter Meetings. They need arms at the back end of the bullpen, and GM Dayton Moore will likely be looking for some veteran additions. More >

Tigers
The middle infield will probably be the Tigers' chief priority -- they want to add a veteran shortstop and maybe a second baseman, too, to give prospect Dawel Lugo time to develop. Detroit is also looking for bullpen help ... but then again, who isn't? More >

Twins
The Twins want a starter and a closer -- they need to fill that second role after trading Fernando Rodney in August. Plus, they could make a move for a corner infielder/outfielder to complement recent acquisition C.J. Cron. More >

White Sox
The White Sox are thinking big. Bryce Harper big. They have serious interest in the superstar free agent. Beyond that, a starter to bolster the rotation in Michael Kopech's absence may be on the list. More >

AL WEST

Angels
The Angels need more pitching, and they need it for both their starting rotation and bullpen. After a string of pitching injuries over the last few years, the club will likely prioritize durability in its search. Los Angeles could also seek an upgrade at catcher, particularly an experienced option. More >

Video: Guardado on the latest between Angels and Trout

Astros
The Astros' roster is still loaded, but they missed out on two players they were interested in: Goldschmidt and Eovaldi. That gives a clue about what Houston will be pursuing at the Winter Meetings -- a starter and an impact bat. More >

Athletics
The A's offseason agenda remains focused on filling out their rotation and finding a catcher. They have a decision to make on whether they want to bring back second baseman Jed Lowrie, while they also need to acquire multiple starting pitchers. Look for Oakland to ramp up its activity next week after a quiet start to the offseason. More >

Mariners
Jerry Dipoto's been making trades left and right, and his roster revamp isn't done yet. The M's might not swing another blockbuster, but they'll certainly be looking to add pitching, especially with both their ace Paxton and their closer Diaz now on new clubs. More >

Rangers
The Rangers have one thing on the mind: pitching. That means multiple inning-eating starters and depth for a depleted bullpen. Texas might not splurge on an expensive name, but they'll be seeking dependability to help take pressure off their younger pitchers. More >

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves
The Braves have already gone out and gotten Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann. What's next? Perhaps an ace for the pitching staff, and maybe even more. Atlanta might also look for an outfielder like Michael Brantley, or a late-inning reliever. More >

Marlins
The Marlins' burning question entering the Winter Meetings: Will they trade J.T. Realmuto? But that's not the only question. The rebuilding Marlins need to add offense, through short-term free agent deals or trades, all if the price is right. More >

Mets
Brodie Van Wagenen has already made waves with his trade for Cano and Diaz. What will the new Mets GM do at his first Winter Meetings? His next move could be for a catcher (Realmuto?), a right-handed-hitting outfielder (A.J. Pollock?) or another stud reliever (Miller?). More >

Nationals
The Nats didn't wait for the Winter Meetings to snatch the top free-agent starter on the market, Corbin. And that's only one of the additions they've already made. They won't wait on Harper to continue shopping, either -- they feel they might be an arm short in the rotation and the bullpen, and they'll want a left-handed bat, even if it's not Harper. More >

Video: Nats introduce free-agent acquisition Patrick Corbin

Phillies
The Phillies are going big. They want Machado, and they want Harper. They also want a frontline starting pitcher, especially after missing out on Corbin. It should be an exciting Winter Meetings for Philly. More >

NL CENTRAL

Brewers
The Brewers don't have much wiggle room within their payroll, but their most significant need is at second base after the club non-tendered Jonathan Schoop. The club may also seek an upgrade at catcher and depth for its bullpen, but those needs are less pressing than the vacancy at second. More >

Cardinals
The Cardinals just pulled off one of the biggest moves of the offseason with their blockbuster trade for Goldschmidt, but they still enter next week's Winter Meetings with a shopping list. The club's top priority of an impact bat has been resolved, so now the focus shifts to the bullpen, which needs a late-inning left-hander and a closer. They're also in the market for a reserve catcher. More >

Video: Cardinals introduce Paul Goldschmidt following trade

Cubs
The Cubs have been linked to Harper all offseason, and the former Nationals star's free agency will be in the spotlight next week. Besides a potential big splash -- which president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has said would require some payroll creativity to add "dollars of real significance" -- Chicago is seeking additional bullpen depth, a backup catcher and a utility infielder. More >

Pirates
The Pirates already re-signed Jung Ho Kang and added outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall. Expect them to keep an eye on the shortstop market, though GM Neal Huntington has said they're comfortable with rookie Kevin Newman and Erik Gonzalez at the position. They could also add another left-handed bullpen arm. More >

Reds
With a new manager in tow, the Reds project to be aggressive in moving beyond their rebuilding effort after four straight last-place finishes in the NL Central. They need more pitching, both in their rotation and bullpen. They're unlikely to be in the mix for a top free-agent arm like Dallas Keuchel, but could add someone from the tier below him. They also need to find a replacement for Billy Hamilton in center field. More >

NL WEST

D-backs
The D-backs addressed one of their top offseason priorities in acquiring starting pitcher Luke Weaver in the Goldschmidt trade. Now they need to fill the void in center field left by Pollock, who is unlikely to re-sign with Arizona, and may also add bullpen depth. More >

Video: After Goldy trade, how will D-backs fill first base?

Dodgers
The Dodgers have already been linked to a number of top free-agent and trade targets this winter, including Harper, Kluber, Yusei Kikuchi and Jose Abreu, so many will be looking to Los Angeles to see how it retools after a second consecutive World Series defeat. The Dodgers need a veteran catcher to pair with Austin Barnes, and will look to upgrade their bullpen. More >

Giants
New president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi enters his first Winter Meetings with the Giants looking to address needs in the outfield, rotation and bullpen. He could possibly deepen the club's talent pool by dealing one of its veterans, with Madison Bumgarner being the most valuable trade chip among them. More >

Padres
The Padres have many holes to address on their roster, including third-base and shortstop jobs that are wide open. Among their biggest priorities is acquiring starting pitching, as no rotation members are currently guaranteed spots for next season. The club could also look to deal from its surplus of Major League outfielders. More >

Rockies
With DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra all hitting free agency, the Rockies will prioritize offense this offseason. Their versatile roster affords them the luxury of not having limiting needs at specific positions in their search for run production. More >

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com.

Eovaldi, Red Sox agree to 4-year deal

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- The Red Sox have accomplished a major piece of their offseason business, agreeing to a four-year contract with free-agent righty and postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi, the club announced Thursday. The deal is for $68 million.

After re-signing World Series MVP Award winner Steve Pearce last month, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski swiftly turned his attention to bringing back Eovaldi.

BOSTON -- The Red Sox have accomplished a major piece of their offseason business, agreeing to a four-year contract with free-agent righty and postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi, the club announced Thursday. The deal is for $68 million.

After re-signing World Series MVP Award winner Steve Pearce last month, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski swiftly turned his attention to bringing back Eovaldi.

"We're very happy to have Nathan back with us," Dombrowski said in the news release announcing the deal. "He did a tremendous job for us last season, playing a significant role in helping us win the division and the World Series. His performance in the postseason was outstanding, both as a starting pitcher and as a reliever."

The Red Sox will hold a press conference at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas on Monday at 2:30 p.m. ET to discuss the deal.

Video: Eovaldi dominates out of bullpen in 2018 World Series

The signing of Eovaldi will mean the Red Sox have nearly their entire cast back from the team that achieved a franchise record of 108 wins during the 2018 regular season and then steamrolled the competition with an 11-3 mark in the postseason.

Closer Craig Kimbrel and setup man Joe Kelly are still free agents. The investment in Eovaldi could preclude the Sox from retaining Kimbrel, who turned down Boston's qualifying offer at the outset of the offseason and is said to be seeking a six-year deal.

With the Winter Meetings starting Monday, Dombrowski's main focus will be on fortifying the bullpen.

Video: MLB Tonight on Eovaldi re-signing with Red Sox

Eovaldi joins Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez in a rotation that could be as good as any in the American League.

Tweet from @RedSox: NASTY NATE IS BACK. pic.twitter.com/Q6m12ePjN4

The Red Sox knew they had to be aggressive if they wanted to keep Eovaldi, who was drawing plenty of interest on the free-agent market from perhaps their two top competitors in the AL -- the rival Yankees and Astros, in addition to National League teams such as the Phillies and Padres.

Eovaldi's impressive return from Tommy John surgery this season, coupled with his high ceiling -- he is just 28 years old and has electric stuff, starting with a fastball that routinely hits triple digits -- made him one of the top starters available, especially after Patrick Corbin agreed to a six-year deal with the Nationals on Tuesday.

Dombrowski acquired Eovaldi from the Rays on July 25 for lefty Jalen Beeks. At the time, the veteran executive took heat from the team's rabid fan base for not addressing the bullpen at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

But Eovaldi proved to be exactly what the Red Sox needed, posting a 3.33 ERA in 12 games (11 starts), with 48 strikeouts in 54 innings.

Eovaldi first endeared himself to Red Sox fans by being a Yankee killer, going 2-0 with a 0.39 ERA in four starts against New York after the trade, including his win in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.

Video: BOS@NYY Gm3: Eovaldi hurls 7 stellar frames vs. Yanks

He also made a big impact in the AL Championship Series, winning Game 3 against the Astros with a solid six-inning start and then getting four big outs out of the bullpen in the clinching Game 5.

But it was in the World Series that Eovaldi took it to another level. He fired a perfect eighth inning in Games 1 and 2 at Fenway Park to preserve victories over the Dodgers. And in the 18-inning epic that was Game 3 at Dodger Stadium, Eovaldi, who was supposed to start Game 4, came out of the bullpen to deliver six innings and was viewed as a hero for the Sox even though he gave up the walk-off homer to Max Muncy.

"He's a game-changer," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Eovaldi earlier this week. "We know the stuff he has. Actually, he went through the process of mixing up his pitches, attacking guys in different spots."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Nathan Eovaldi