Red Sox shouldn’t overpay for Nathan Eovaldi

Alan Greenwood

Baseball’s stupid season (also known as the free agent market) is reaching its silly crescendo.

It has been reported that free agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi could receive as much as $60 million over four seasons. Upon digesting that speculation one curmudgeon immediately dredged up the memory of Pablo Sandoval and the incredible amount of money the Red Sox are still paying him.

The man who arrived at his first Red Sox training camp so rotund he couldn’t bend over for a ground ball can ultimately thank Boston for giving him a $95 million, five-year deal in exchange for 161 games of marginal mediocrity.

Or does a .237 average with 14 home runs now merit higher regard?

Those 161 games were spread over three seasons as Sandoval struggled against the battle with pulled fat that landed kept him waddling between the field and the disabled list.

In its entirety Sandoval’s career has been greater than his dark days in Boston. He has a career batting average of .281 with 134 home runs and 581 RBIs. It is not the stuff that commands space being cleared at Cooperstown, but at least merits a sliver of respect.

The Red Sox tripped over the border of rational evaluation because Sandoval had become a playoff hero with the Giants. He played in three World Series and was the 2012 Series MVP. His status as a celebrity athlete was confirmed.

And now we have Eovaldi, without whom the Red Sox would not have won the 2018 World Series. He turned in postseason performance that will linger as his New England legacy regardless of where he goes from here.

A very strong argument could be cobbled together in favor of Eovaldi being the World Series MVP rather than Steve Pearce, another nice, solid professional who gave the Red Sox more than they could have dreamed possible.

The Red Sox rewarded Pearce with a nice little one-year, $6.5 million contract. That’s a reasonable bonus for services already rendered.

But before the Red Sox decide to fork over a mountain of dough spread over too many seasons, they would be wise to simply consider Eovaldi’s career numbers: 44 wins, 53 losses and a 4.18 ERA.

Please don’t tell me that those are numbers that now merit an annual salary of $15 million.

Pitching is at a premium, but the business of baseball continues topping itself in overpaying for adequacy.

Maybe the 2018 postseason will prove to have been an awakening of Eovaldi’s true big-league destiny. Up to now it could be that Eovaldi’s inner star finally bubbled to the surface. Maybe he has been launched into the galaxy reserved for the game’s great pitchers.

But how much would anyone out there be willing to wager on that?

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-1248, agreenwood or @Telegraph_ AlanG.