Yankees Shouldn’t Let Nathan Eovaldi Walk This Winter

Although Nathan Eovaldi was among those DFA’d Friday evening, the New York Yankees should look to retain the starting pitcher on a multi-year deal in the coming weeks.

Friday at 8 pm ET was the deadline for MLB clubs to add Rule-5 eligible players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the draft in December, which forced the New York Yankees to do a lot of housecleaning.

The team placed utilityman Dustin Ackley on release waivers before the deadline and also designated pitchers Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Mantiply, and Nick Rumbelow for assignment, removing them from the big league roster.

The biggest name from this group is 26-year-old Nathan Eovaldi, who many thought was beginning to capitalize on his impressive stuff and establish himself as a front-of-the-rotation arm after a strong finish to the 2015 campaign.

Eovaldi ultimately failed to build on that success, pitching to a 4.76 ERA and 4.97 FIP in 124.2 IP before it was revealed in August that he would require surgery to repair both a torn flexor tendon and a partially torn UCL.

Eovaldi underwent both procedures on August 19th and since then it has just been a matter of time before he was DFA’d. He made $5.6 million this season and was due for a small raise even after the injury, so it’s not particularly surprising the Yankees don’t want to pay him that when he isn’t expected to pitch at all in 2017.

I am a little surprised that there has been no indication that the front office has reached out to Eovaldi to discuss a multi-year extension at a lower-annual value, similar to the contracts they’ve given pitchers Jon Lieber, Andrew Bailey, and David Aardsma in the past. Until Eovaldi signs with another club, they need to foot the bill for his rehabilitation efforts anyway, so they might as well take a gamble on getting some value out of him in 2018.

A two year deal worth around $8-10 million could work for both sides. When he returns in 2018, Eovaldi will still be just 28 years old, and with the market for starting pitching the way it is, the Yankees are not in a position to turn aside potential quality starters in their prime.

As of yet, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has yet to confirm any interest in keeping Eovaldi around. During his annual end-of-season press conference he declined to discuss the issue, saying, “We’ll just let that process play out.” Of course, the door won’t be closed until Eovaldi signs with another club, so we’ll just have to see what happens in the coming weeks.

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