By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — With the Washington Nationals signing lefty Patrick Corbin to a six-year deal worth $140 million, MLB free agency officially kicked off on Tuesday.
Corbin, considered the best starting pitcher available this winter, has now set the market for everyone else. And in spurning the New York Yankees, Corbin’s decision could be bad news for the Boston Red Sox in their quest to retain postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi.
Teams looking to add a starter will shift their attention to Eovaldi, who now headlines the free agent starting pitching class along with Dallas Keuchel and J.A. Happ. If Corbin, who went 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA with Arizona last season, can get a deal worth $23 million a season for six years, Eovaldi will surely command at least a four-year deal near the $70 million mark.
That shouldn’t be too pricey for the Red Sox, who have said throughout the offseason that they’d love to have him back on their pitching staff. But more importantly, with Corbin off the market, Boston will have even more competition to sign the righty. With the Yankees missing out on Corbin, unwilling to add a sixth year to their offer, they’re expected to shift their attention to Eovaldi.
The Yankees may actually tap out of the Eovaldi sweepstakes if the pitcher, who has undergone two Tommy John surgeries during his career, commands a four-year contract (according to the NY Post’s Joel Sherman). Still, the Red Sox will have plenty of other competition from the Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres and Houston Astros, all of whom are rumored to be interested in Eovaldi. The Astros could pose the biggest threat to sign Eovaldi, a Houston native.
Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays ahead of the trade deadline, Eovaldi finished his 2018 regular season 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 22 appearances between the two teams. He was a huge part of Boston’s World Series run in October, going 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA as both a starter and reliever. He’ll forever be known for pitching 6.1 innings of relief on just one day’s rest in Boston’s 18-inning loss in Game 3. He allowed just four earned runs in his 22.1 innings of work in the playoffs.
Now that Corbin is off the market, Eovaldi isn’t expected to be a free agent for much longer. There’s a good chance he puts ink to paper ahead of the MLB Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, which is set to begin Sunday night.
The Red Sox should still be considered the favorite to sign Eovaldi, but things got a little tougher on Tuesday.