Cincinnati Reds: Nathan Eovaldi is the starter to target in free agency

BOSTON, MA - JULY 29: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after pitching in the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins as he heads for the dugout at Fenway Park on July 29, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 29: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after pitching in the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins as he heads for the dugout at Fenway Park on July 29, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /
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Nathan Eovaldi’s performance this postseason will definitely get him paid when free agency opens in a few days. He’s the starting pitcher the Cincinnati Reds should target above all others this offseason.

I don’t know how many people knew Nathan Eovaldi‘s name before the 18-inning marathon that took place during Game 3 of the World Series, but every GM in Major League Baseball sure knows it by now. Eovaldi’s Red Sox won the World Series on Sunday night, but Eovaldi himself may have won more than that. The free-agent-to-be is sure to cash in this offseason and the Cincinnati Reds should be first in line to sign Eovaldi.

After adding Eovaldi at the Trade Deadline, the Boston Red Sox started the right-hander in 11 games and saw him post a 3.33 ERA. Eovaldi started Game 3 of the ALDS at New York and Game 3 of the ALCS at Houston. On the biggest stage in baseball, Eovaldi pitched 13 innings, struck out 9 batters, held hitters to a .224 average, and held an ERA of 2.08.

Eovaldi later in the postseason entered Game 5 of the ALCS against the Astros as a reliever. He did the same in Game 1 and 2 of the World Series. In 3.1 innings of relief work, Eovaldi allowed only 1 hit, struck out 2, and didn’t allow a single earned run.

Eovaldi wowed the entire baseball world, those who stayed awake anyway, during his six-inning performance during Game 3 of the World Series. Eovaldi, who ultimately gave up the game-winning home run (his only HR allowed of the postseason) to Max Muncy, earned a boatload of respect from his teammates after grinding out 6 innings and striking out 5 of the 22 batters he faced.

On the surface, Eovaldi looks like the exact type of pitcher that the Cincinnati Reds need to pursue in free agency. There are some cracks, however. Eovaldi has undergone Tommy John surgery twice, so durability will definitely be a concern. Eovaldi has a career-ERA of 4.16. That’s not going to get anyone excited, especially since just last year he gave up 23 home runs.

Those negatives notwithstanding, Eovaldi is the type of pitcher the Reds should pursue this offseason. In all reality, it unlikely Cincinnati jumps into the Patrick Corbin or Dallas Keuchel sweepstakes. Players like Eovaldi, Wade Miley, and Trevor Cahill seem more probable and will likely come with a shorter-term deal.

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The Cincinnati Reds management has made it clear that improving the pitching staff is a priority this winter. Bob Castellini, Dick Williams, and Nick Krall could start the offseason off with a bang if they’re able to sign a pitcher like Nathan Eovaldi.