Cubs Reportedly Among Teams Scouting Righty Nathan Eovaldi

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Cubs Reportedly Among Teams Scouting Righty Nathan Eovaldi

Chicago Cubs

Although it was already true that the Cubs would be looking at starting pitching depth this trade season – you have to make contingency plans and preemptively patch holes that don’t yet exist, just in case – that feels all the more true after word that Yu Darvish may not return, at best, until the end of this month.

With that in mind, I note a little more closely a report out of Tampa Bay that the Cubs were among four teams (Phillies, Red Sox, Braves) scouting Rays righty Nathan Eovaldi on Monday.

Eovaldi has made just seven starts this year, debuting at the end of May thanks to a surgery to remove “loose bodies” in his elbow to begin the season, and then subsequent oblique soreness while gearing up. He’s more or less been fantastic in those seven starts with one huge exception – his eye-popping 1.96 HR/9. Maybe there’s some flukiness there, but given his injury history, you do wonder if he’s simply become susceptible to the long ball.

Otherwise, you see things like a 21.9% K rate, a 3.8% BB rate, a 49.6% groundball rate, a 21.2% soft contact rate, a 32.2% hard contact rate, and a 14.3% infield fly ball rate, and you’re like, yeah, I’d totally like that guy in the rotation.

Incredibly, despite a long and winding professional career, Eovaldi is still just 28 years old. Eovaldi first had Tommy John surgery when he was in high school, then, soon after looking like he was breaking out with the Yankees after developing a splitter and seeing his fastball velocity start to tick up into the upper-90s, he had to have a second Tommy John surgery and a surgery to repair a flexor issue.

(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

This is Eovaldi’s first season back from that second Tommy John surgery and flexor surgery, and he’s making $2 million before hitting free agency after the season.

Trading for him at this point, given the surgeries, the loose bodies from earlier this year, the home run issues, and the unproven long-term track record is a gamble, to say the least. The upside there is significant – he’s got the stuff to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter immediately, and his velocity is back – but you might wind up with a guy who gives you a couple homer-filled starts and then breaks again.

He would certainly make for an interesting target for a team like the Cubs, who may need a rental option with some upside, but who would not necessarily cost an elite-prospect-package-type return. How it would work with the Cubs’ current five starters plus Yu Darvish, should he return? Well, you sort of worry about that when it’s time to worry about it. In the meantime, you cover your bases while you have a chance.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this one to see if some more concrete rumors develop.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.