Yankees Haven’t Closed Door On Return of Nathan Eovaldi
The Yankees are interested in re-signing free agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, even though he’ll miss all of 2017 following Tommy John surgery.
Following his arrival from the Miami Marlins, Nathan Eovaldi was labeled as a steal. A potential top of the rotation-type piece who averaged 97.9 mph on his fastball. Eovaldi’s best season with the Yankees came in 2015 when he went 14-3 with a 4.20 ERA and 7.1 K/9.
After working all last offseason with pitching coach Larry Rothschild on a splitter, 2016 was supposed to be Eovaldi’s breakout campaign. Yet even before going down with a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow on Aug. 16, Nasty Nate was erratic at best, going 9-8 with a 1.307 WHIP, and career-worst 4.76 ERA.
Eovaldi, the Texas native, did show signs of life pitching out of the bullpen for a short period of time in ’16. That, coupled with the weak free agent pitching class is why the Yankees would have likely paid the remaining year of arbitration on Eovaldi’s deal, had he not been lost to injury.
According to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, the club remains interested in a reunion with Eovaldi.
"“Obviously, he’s a free agent, and we’ve had some discussions with Nate Eovaldi about trying to find a solution that works for both sides. But he’s still a free agent and there’s competition for him. Other than the injury, you couldn’t say enough about him. His makeup’s off the charts. His work ethic was off the charts. He was a performer for us. But, unfortunately, injury hit. But he’s on the free market, and he’s weighing a lot of different decisions. Yes, I’ve talked to (Eovaldi’s agent) Seth Levinson several times regarding him.”"
This wouldn’t be the first time the Yankees agreed to terms with a player destined to miss a large chunk of time. In the past few years, they’ve signed and stashed fellow free agent pitchers David Aardsma and Andrew Bailey. While neither of those agreements worked out in the organization’s favor, should the Yankees be able to secure Eovaldi for a 2-year/$7M pact, I don’t see why the calculated gamble wouldn’t make sense for both parties.
Of course, Eovaldi could decide to rehab outside of the watchful eye of MLB, much like former All-Star closer Greg Holland did this past year after missing the entire 2016 season with a torn UCL.
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Unfortunately for Holland, to date, he’s still a free agent — so maybe Eovaldi and his reps would be wise to hear the Yankees out and take a small guaranteed deal — especially if it means getting a legit look in 2018 when he’s once again ready to take the mound.