Eovaldi, Red Sox agree to 4-year deal

December 6th, 2018

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 , 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.

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 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.

Eovaldi joins Chris Sale, , and in a rotation that could be as good as any in the American League.

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 agreed to a six-year deal with the Nationals on Tuesday.

Dombrowski acquired Eovaldi from the Rays on July 25 for lefty . 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.

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 .

"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."