Nathan Eovaldi will return to Red Sox on four-year deal

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, the two-time Tommy John surgery survivor and recent postseason hero for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, has agreed to return to Boston, sources said Thursday morning.

Eovaldi’s deal is for four years and $67.5 million, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The Athletic was first to report the sides had reached an agreement. 

A popular figure in free agency and particularly in Boston, Eovaldi would return to a rotation of Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello. He’d been rumored to have been engaged as well with the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers and others.

Eovaldi, 28, endured his first ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction procedure as a junior at Alvin (Texas) High School, his second as a Yankee in the summer of 2016. He missed the 2017 season while recovering from surgery and returned in 2018 with the Tampa Bay Rays, and also with a fastball that neared 100 mph. He was traded mid-summer to the Red Sox, for whom he made 12 appearances, 11 of them starts, and pitched to a 3.33 ERA.

And while all of that was fine, his real value – and push into free agency – came in October, when over six appearances (two starts) he was 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA. In Game 3 of the World Series, after pitching an inning in each of the first two games, Eovaldi entered in the 12th inning and did not leave until Max Muncy’s walk-off home run in the 18th. The ninth pitcher of the game for the Red Sox, Eovaldi helped save Boston’s pitching staff for the rest of the series, which the Red Sox won in five games.

See Eovaldi in the World Series: 

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Nathan Eovaldi in the World Series
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Nathan Eovaldi in the World Series
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox during the fourteenth inning of game three of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 26, 2018 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox bats during the fourteenth inning of game three of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 26, 2018 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Red Sox Nathan Eovaldi watches the flight of Dodgers Max Muncy (background) walk off home run in the 18th inning. Los Angeles Dodgers hosted the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 2018. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox reacts to a single by Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the thirteenth inning in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi after Max Muncy hits game winning home run in the eighteenth inning in Game 3 of the World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers host the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox delivers during the thirteenth inning of game three of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 26, 2018 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 28: Manager Alex Cora #20 and Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox celebrate with the World Series trophy after their teams 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 28: Matt Barnes #32 and Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox celebrate their teams 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 28: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with teammates after the Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
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Eovaldi was lauded by teammates for his selflessness.

“I felt privileged to be able to watch what Nathan Eovaldi did,” Rick Porcello said. “That was the most incredible pitching performance I’ve ever seen.

“After the game was over I started crying. He literally gave everything he had on every single pitch.”
The following day, in the hours before Game 4, Eovaldi volunteered for more.

“I saw him this morning and he was telling people he’s ready to go,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I’m like, ‘Your agent is going to kill me.’”

Eovaldi did not pitch again in the series.

He had, instead, launched himself into a curious free agency, one that carried the hard fastball and the hard cutter he’d picked up just before his second surgery and the splitter than came disguised as a fastball. Also, of course, the uncertainty of a pitcher operating after two Tommy John surgeries, and also one who’d put himself at risk for the good of the ballclub.

Eovaldi was 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA across 111 regular-season innings for the Rays and Red Sox. His strikeouts-per-nine – 8.2 – was a career best. So was his strikeouts-per-walk (5.05). He also has once – in 2014, for the Miami Marlins – made a full season of starts.

The largest contract given to a pitcher with two Tommy John surgeries is believed to be the three-year, $38-million deal given last winter by the Chicago Cubs to Tyler Chatwood, three years removed from his second. Chatwood’s first season in Chicago concluded with him in the bullpen, with command issues and a 5.30 ERA.

Other notable free agents who are still available: 

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Remaining MLB free agents: 2018-19
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Remaining MLB free agents: 2018-19

RF Bryce Harper

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

SS Manny Machado

(Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

SP Dallas Keuchel

(Photo by Loren Elliott/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

RP Craig Kimbrel

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

C Yasmani Grandal

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

C Wilson Ramos

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

C Kurt Suzuki

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

C Martin Maldonado

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

C Jonathan Lucroy

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

C Brian McCann

(Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

1B Hanley Ramirez

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

2B Jed Lowrie

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

2B Asdrubal Cabrera

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

2B Ian Kinsler

(Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

2B DJ LeMahieu

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

2B Brian Dozier

(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

2B Daniel Murphy

(AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

3B Mike Moustakas

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

SS Jose Iglesias

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

LF Michael Brantley

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

LF Marwin Gonzalez

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

LF Denard Span

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

CF Adam Jones

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

RF Andrew McCutchen

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

RF Nick Markakis

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

DH Nelson Cruz

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

SP Charlie Morton

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

SP Anibal Sanchez

(Photo by Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SP Matt Harvey

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

SP Bartolo Colon

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

RP Adam Ottavino

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

RP David Robertson

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

RP Andrew Miller

(Photo by Joe Sargent/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

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