Post-deadline impasse clears Nathan Eovaldi, JD Martinez future with Red Sox

Post-deadline impasse clears Nathan Eovaldi, JD Martinez future with Red Sox

Tomase: Post-deadline malaise clarifies Eovaldi’s future Martinez appeared first on NBC Sports Boston

Once the trade deadline passed, the possibility of qualifying offers to JD Martinez and Nathan Eovaldi this fall was uncertain, but I closed yes and yes.

The Red Sox declined to trade either, suggesting that aside from any serious playoff push they might make, there would be at least one draft pick in their future if and when they both leave in free agency.

In the absolute worst-case scenario that each accepted one-year deals worth around $19 million, the Red Sox would simply be stuck with a pair of All-Stars, one to anchor the rotation and the other the lineup.

Six weeks later, that calculus no longer applies.

Bringing it back with this year’s bottom-placed club isn’t an option, but making changes costs money. Given Eovaldi’s well-known struggles with injuries and Martinez’s mysterious origins as a banjo player, it’s hard to imagine Chaim Bloom and Co. they are risking more than half of their projected $70 million in cap space this winter on the two veterans.

And so that means not even making a suitable offer for fear of them accepting it, which in turn means letting them go for nothing. On the scale of asset mismanagement, business schools will one day teach seminars on Boston’s non-binding buy and sell deadline as the definition of a failed half measure.

How Eovaldi and Martinez went from deadline chips to potentially worthless in just one month is a lesson in understatement. Eovaldi’s velocity started to drop when he returned from a back injury in mid-July, which no doubt affected his value, but at least he was putting up a side. In his final start a day before the Aug. 2 deadline, he went 6.1 efficient innings against the Astros, limiting them to zero earned runs in a 3-2 win.

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Rival suitors expressed interest — Eovaldi’s postseason resume speaks for itself — but the Red Sox never found an offer they deemed acceptable. There were worse outcomes than offering Eovaldi and either getting a draft pick or keeping him for a year with relatively little money at the top of the rotation.

But Eovaldi lasted just two more starts before neck and shoulder pain forced him back on the injured list on August 23. The Red Sox insist they intend to start again, but time is short and the season is already effectively over.

Given Eovaldi’s extensive injury history — he only made 30 starts twice in 11 seasons and missed all of 2017 for Tommy John surgery — he was always going to be a risk at age 33. But now, with the Red Sox counting on the oft-injured Chris Sale and possibly James Paxton next year, they can’t afford another huge question mark in the starting staff. Perhaps they can be convinced that his health issues will be resolved this winter, but that seems unlikely.

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By comparison, Martinez represents a much easier decision. Had he opted out in any of the last three winters, the Red Sox would have let him walk with little more than a handshake and a pat on the back. But Martinez completed his five-year, $110 million contract, making him one of the best free-agent signings in franchise history.

Unfortunately, this player did not make it to the finish line. Even though he made his fourth All-Star team in a Red Sox uniform, he hasn’t looked like himself since June. Over his last 68 games, Martinez is hitting just .208 with three home runs.

If the Red Sox offered him, he’d be crazy not to take it, since it’s unlikely any other team would surrender a draft pick to sign him. The Red Sox seem intent on using the DH as a glorified bench, and that doesn’t work with Martinez on the books for $19 million. The divorce this fall must be clean and final.

It’s enough to make you wonder why Bloom didn’t pull the trigger on deals for either when he had the chance, but that’s history now. All we know is that the last six weeks have brought clarity to some questions that were once vexing, but now offer simple solutions.

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