The Texas Rangers got off to a sprinting start this offseason, signing Jacob deGrom to a monster deal before the Winter Meetings. After adding Corey Seager and Marcus Semien last year, the Rangers seemingly made this offseason all about their starting pitching. They signed deGrom, they retained Martin Perez, they acquired Jake Odorizzi, and they signed Andrew Heaney. That’s practically an entire rotation.
OK, actually, make it an entire rotation:
With Jon Gray already in the mix, plus Dane Dunning, the Rangers now go seven starters deep. There’s a crapload of injury risk in that group of seven – almost a comically high amount – but there’s also a lot of upside. Plus, hey, if you’ve got seven, maybe you can count on, like, four being mostly healthy?
Eovaldi, 32, was brilliant for the Red Sox in 2021 (5.7 WAR), but took a big step back in 2022 (1.0 WAR) … is part of the picture. Despite those massive differences in WAR, he didn’t actually get THAT much worse results in 2022 (3.87 ERA) as compared to 2021 (3.75 ERA). But he missed a lot of time in 2022, he gave up a lot of home runs, his strikeout rate slipped toward average, and the offensive environment in baseball tightened way up. So, you get a guy who was kinda similar in 2022 to 2021, but was worth a heckuva lot less.
The back and the shoulder injuries in 2022 are what made Eovaldi’s market a big question, and probably why he didn’t sign until now. He was also attached to draft pick compensation, so the Rangers are doing a little double-dipping on that front (which isn’t the worst idea in the world, because it slightly lessens the penalty for signing that second qualified free agent – they’ll lose their second rounder for deGrom, and now only their third rounder for Eovaldi).
The Cubs hadn’t been seriously connected to Eovaldi this offseason, and it’s felt like their rotation work has been done for a while. Maybe a trade opportunity pops up now with most of the quality starting options in free agency off the market, but I don’t see the Cubs making a move like that unless it’s a real impact, front-of-the-rotation type.
UPDATE: The contract is just about what was projected for Eovaldi: