Yankees looking at Nathan Eovaldi as a backup if Carlos Rodon pursuit fails

Nathan Eovaldi was with the Yankees in 2015-16.

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The Yankees want Carlos Rodon and the free-agent pitcher is also interested to play for the Bronx Bombers. However, Rodón wants a contract for at least seven years and a high salary, while the club would rather keep it to four or five years. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman claims that they will try to find a middle ground, but the Yankees are also looking at Nathan Eovaldi as a backup plan.

In the past few weeks, starting pitchers have been going quickly off the board, leaving Nathan Eovaldi as one of the best ones left that the Yankees can acquire. Over the past few seasons, he pitched for the Dodgers, Marlins, and Yankees. Eovaldi has gone back and forth between being a very good pitcher and missing a lot of time because of injuries. In the 2016 season, a Tommy John surgery grounded him for that year and the next.

Nathan Eovaldi, who pitched for the Yankees in 2015 and 2016, is said to be the second choice for New York.

“Rodon remains the Yankees’ top priority despite the gap,” Heyman wrote. “And the sides are expected to work on potential compromises over the next few days. The Yankees believe Rodon wants to come to New York, but if they can’t bridge their difference, they may turn to their next choice, believed to be ex-Yankee Nathan Eovaldi. Rodon brings some advantages, his left-handedness being one in Yankee Stadium.”

The Rays signed Nathan Eovaldi for the 2017 season and gave him a $2 million option for 2018. Up until that point, he had a strong arm, but he hadn’t done much with it. At that point in his career, he had a 4.21 ERA and a 17% strikeout rate. But 2018 was a major turning point for him. He pitched 111 innings and struck out 22.2% of the batters he faced. That included a trade to the Red Sox in the middle of the season. In the postseason, Nathan Eovaldi pitched 22 and a third innings with a 1.61 ERA and 18.8% strikeout rate, which helped the team win the World Series.

Because of how well he played in the playoffs, the Red Sox signed Nathan Eovaldi to a four-year, $68MM deal. In 2019, he missed a lot of work because he had surgery to clean out his elbow. Eovaldi pitched 67 2/3 innings and had an ERA of 5.99. He got back on track in the short 2020 season and made nine starts with an ERA of 3.72, but he missed some time because of a calf strain.

In 2021, Nathan Eovaldi stayed healthy and made 32 starts. He had a 3.75 ERA and struck out 25.5% of batters. In 2022, the pitcher went to the injured list twice, once for inflammation in his back and once for inflammation in his shoulder. He still made 20 starts and had a 3.87 ERA and 22.4% strikeout rate, which were both good numbers. However, his velocity went down, which was a worrying step back. During the first three years of his contract with Boston, he averaged around 97 MPH, but that dropped to 95.7 MPH in 2022.

Even though Nathan Eovaldi had a history of injuries and turned down a qualifying offer, analysts still expect him to get a good two-year deal worth $34 million, or $17 million a year. This offseason, the market for free agents has been pretty strong, and many players have done better than expected. It wouldn’t be surprising if Nathan Eovaldi, who will be 33 in February, asked for a third year or a higher average annual salary.

Since their rotation is in good shape, the Yankees don’t really need a starter but pitchers who can complement Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino, and Frankie Montas. Also, the Yankees want to stay under the tax restriction of $273 million, which could be a problem with the payroll. If the team goes over that line, the financial penalties would get worse, and the top pick in the 2023 draft would be moved back ten spots.

Their current payroll, according to Roster Resource, stands at $261 million. A big deal for Rodon or even a smaller one for Nathan Eovaldi means the Yankees are beyond the tax limits of $293 million. Since the Yankees have other needs, like in the left field and the bullpen, it’s not clear if they want to spend a lot on the rotation.

The Rays traded the 32-year-old right-handed pitcher to the Red Sox in the middle of the 2018 season. After helping the Red Sox win the World Series, Nathan Eovaldi signed a $68 million, four-year deal to stay in Boston. During the season, the Red Sox were unable to extend Eovaldi’s contract. He has turned down both a one-year qualifying offer from Boston for $19.65 and a longer-term offer from Boston.

Who do you think Rodon or Eovaldi the best fit for the Yankees?

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