After his impressive playoff and World Series performances, could Nathan Eovaldi lead the 2019 rotation in San Diego? This plus more in the latest rounds of Padres rumors.
We’re just over two weeks into the 2018-2019 offseason and this year is quickly shaping up to be much more exciting than last year’s long, slow free agency period. While the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox are rumored to be in a position to make some of the more explosive signings, the San Diego Padres might be making their noise via the trade route, with most Padres rumors pointing to potential deals for Eugenio Suarez, Maikel Franco, Sonny Gray, and others.
Despite the ability to spend large amounts of money this offseason, the Padres seem content in adding very few free agents, attempting to strike trade deals, and wait for the next crop of elite prospects to reach the majors.
That sounds like a great plan, however, this Padres rotation was one of the worst in Major League Baseball and top prospects like MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patino, Adrian Morejon, and Ryan Weathers are all just 18 or 19 years old. Chris Paddack will likely crack the rotation in 2019, but will be on an innings limit again as he continues his climb back from Tommy John surgery.
As of now, Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Clayton Richard, Robbie Erlin, Matt Strahm, Cal Quantrill, Logan Allen, and many more will be in competition for the 2019 starting rotation. There’s potential with arms like Lucchesi, Lauer, Strahm, and Allen (Allen may be destined for the best major league career as a starter, among the group), but there’s no one to lead the rotation.
The San Diego Padres should sign Nathan Eovaldi.
We have profiled a few pitching targets for the Padres, including Yusei Kikuchi, Trevor Cahill, and Jeremy Hellickson and while any of these three names make the San Diego rotation better, none of them move the needle a large amount. Eovaldi is still young, owns an electric fastball, and has yet to unlock his true potential.
No, this isn’t because of his recent success in the postseason, although it is comforting to know that Eovaldi stepped out onto one the biggest stage in baseball and dominated the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, and Los Angeles Dodgers (8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 3 games).
Eovaldi had a great season in 2015 with the New York Yankees, posting a 3.2 fWAR and keeping the ball on the ground (52%) and in the ballpark (0.58 HR/9) in the always deadly American League East. The next season proved to be a disappointing campaign, before going under the knife for Tommy John surgery.
In his return to the mound, Eovaldi rebounded well with the Tampa Bay Rays and Red Sox, striking out more than 22% of hitters he faced and limiting the number of walks allowed to just over 4%. Both his WHIP (1.13) and opponents’ batting average (.243) were the lowest marks of his career for a full season. Opposing hitters managed just a .218 batting average against Eovaldi’s 97+ mph four-seamer and whiffed on nearly 25% of the 711 he threw in 2018.
Here are his numbers against current National League West hitters:
- Dodgers: .125 average, .155 OBP, 1 HR, 2 BB, 16 K in 58 PA
- Giants: .184 average, .295 OBP, 1 HR, 4 BB, 11 K in 61 PA not including Pablo Sandoval (13/20, .650 avg, 1 HR)
- Diamondbacks: .175 average, .200 OBP, 0 HR, 2 BB, 18 K in 61 PA
- Rockies: .233 average, .283 OBP, 2 HR, 3 BB, 15 K in 46 PA
Other than his inability to corral Sandoval, Eovaldi has had a lot of success against NL West hitters, a division that will see Giants team that will surely struggle and a Diamondbacks team who is currently shopping their best hitter in Paul Goldschmidt.
MLBTradeRumors projects the 28-year-old World Series champion to receive a four-year/$60 million deal, Jim Bowden of The Athletic projects a three-year/$42 million deal. With a bidding war sure to ensue, a four-year/$60+ million deal seems much more likely, considering Eovaldi is the top right-handed free agent on the market. San Diego doesn’t need another Eric Hosmer type contract here, but if they can sign Eovaldi for $15-16 million/per year or less, make the move.
Stay tuned as a new week begins and more Padres rumors, or actual moves, potentially spring up now that the the first round of offseason meeting are wrapped up.