Nate Eovaldi will make his Globe Life Field debut on Friday. But for a flickering moment last summer, it seemed fair to wonder whether the Red Sox starter’s first appearance in the new ballpark might come sooner — and in a Rangers uniform.
At the trade deadline last year, according to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox and Rangers had exploratory discussions about a deal to send Eovaldi (owed roughly $37 million of his four-year, $68 million deal that runs through 2022) to Texas in exchange for second baseman Rougned Odor (owed roughly $29 million over the duration of his six-year, $49.5 million contract).
For the Red Sox, the prize wasn’t Odor, whom Texas ended up trading to the Yankees early this year. Instead, the Sox were sellers looking to fortify their farm system as the Aug. 31 trade deadline neared. They sought deals that would allow them to “buy” prospects either by parting with big league talent (Eovaldi), absorbing bad contracts from other teams (Odor), or both. But despite some early discussions of a framework built around a swap of those players and young talent coming to the Red Sox, conversations never advanced.
The Sox remained open to dealing Eovaldi this winter, just as they’d surveyed market interest in him in the 2019-20 offseason. A rival evaluator whose team had interest in Eovaldi said that while the Sox listened to offers, they never showed a willingness to dump the hard-throwing righthander’s contract — or, more specifically, to pay another team to take Eovaldi without getting prospects in return.
Eovaldi remained with the Red Sox — much to the team’s delight thus far this year. Though he struggled in his most recent outing (5 innings, 5 runs) against the Mariners, his strong start (3-1, 3.77 ERA, 27 strikeouts, 5 walks in 28⅔ innings) has helped guide the Red Sox through the first four weeks of the season, Eovaldi contributing both with his on-field performance and through his leadership.
“He’s been great. For everything we’ve been talking about pitching-wise, he’s the perfect example,” said manager Alex Cora. “Last year, he did an amazing job throwing strikes. That’s what he did in Tampa, that’s what he did with us in ’18, and that’s what he’s doing right now. If there’s a spokesman in the clubhouse about pounding the strike zone, it’s him — and Eddie [Rodriguez] also — but I think he’s been very vocal about it [with Matt Barnes] and the young guys. He’s been amazing for us.”
Brock Holt making his mark
During his seven seasons with the Red Sox, Brock Holt made the All-Star team in 2015 and was a key member of the 2018 championship. An equally important part of his legacy was the work he and his wife, Lakyn, did with The Jimmy Fund.
Holt was a Jimmy Fund Captain from 2016-19, visiting the clinic regularly and arranging for patients and their families to attend games at Fenway Park.
“We spent a lot of time at the Jimmy Fund, with some of the kids and some of the families, and was able to build some really good, really good relationships,” he said.
The Holts are bringing that spirit to Texas. On Friday, he announced a fundraising initiative that will benefit the Pediatric Oncology Unit at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth and the Jimmy Fund. T-shirts and caps are available at jasportstexas.com/collections/holtoffcancer.
Holt, a native of Fort Worth who grew up in nearby Stephenville, has played for the Brewers, Nationals, and now the Rangers since leaving the Sox. He’s been a platoon third baseman for Texas, with whom he signed in February.
The Rangers also see the 32-year-old as being important to team chemistry and setting a better tone after four consecutive losing seasons.
“I came up on a Red Sox team with a lot of veteran guys and a lot of good veteran guys … those guys were great. They helped us out,” Holt said. “That’s a big part of this game and we have a lot of young guys here.”
The Holts and their two sons moved out of Boston last winter, but the city remains important to him.
“I’m obviously not rooting for the Red Sox the next four days but always rooting for everyone on that team and in that organization,” he said.
When the Red Sox signed Matt Andriese this winter, it was natural to view him as a potential multi-inning reliever or spot starter. While he has logged as many as three innings in an appearance, he’s also emerged as a single-inning, tight-game option, recording one save while serving as a setup man in others. “He’s our utility guy in the bullpen,” said Cora. Andriese, who has a 1.42 ERA in 12⅔ innings, is enjoying a role that is not just varied but that has seen him assume unanticipated prominence. “Coming here, a lot of people thought, ‘Hey, he’s going to be a long reliever, he can do everything,’ ” said Andriese. “I think that’s what makes it fun. At least for myself and my career, I’ve always been kind of under the table. Nobody knows who I am. I embrace that” . . . Outfielder Franchy Cordero (1-for-22 with 14 strikeouts since April 15) was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game (and second straight against a righthanded starter) to focus on work in the batting cage. Cora said Cordero will start on Friday and Saturday. However, his roster spot seems uncertain with switch-hitting utilityman Danny Santana — signed in spring training to a minor league deal, but slowed by a foot infection that required a surgical procedure in mid-March — slated to start a rehab assignment in High-A Greenville on Tuesday. “[Santana is] a switch-hitter with speed and power,” said Cora. “We need him to get healthy and get his repetitions. We have to be patient and see where it takes us. … But he’s a player that we really like and we do feel like when he’s right, he can contribute to a championship-caliber team.”
Red Sox under center?
As much as available quarterbacks at the top of the first round dominated the attention of the NFL on Thursday, the Red Sox had a vested interest in the later rounds of the draft. Quarterback Feleipe Franks of Arkansas, viewed as a potential late-round selection, was selected by the Red Sox as a pitcher in the 31st round of the 2019 MLB Draft, when he was playing football for the University of Florida, and signed for $40,000. The Sox had seen him throw as hard as 94 mph, and took a flyer on the 6-foot-6 righthander. Franks, 23, has maintained contact with the Red Sox the last two years, but hasn’t taken part in any formal activities such as spring training or instructional league. He’s expected to pursue his football career before making any determination about his interest in baseball. He hasn’t played for a baseball team since his junior year of high school . . . Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman was designated for assignment by the Cubs. The Sox dealt Workman and fellow reliever Heath Hembree to the Phillies last August in exchange for Nick Pivetta and prospect Connor Seabold, a move that shed a pair of relievers who have both since left Philly. Workman allowed nine runs (6 earned) in eight innings this year for the Cubs. Hembree, who was released by the Phillies after the 2020 season, has thrown 3⅓ scoreless innings with the Reds . . . On Wednesday, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service — the second-highest award presented by the Secretary of Defense — for his work with Home Base. The Red Sox Foundation and MGH program provides clinical care and support for service members, veterans, and their families in dealing with invisible wounds such as traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress, and related conditions.
Peter Abraham contributed to this report from Arlington, Texas.