Nathan Eovaldi did everything the Red Sox asked of him and more in the World Series, pitching three times in a span of four days, including what is now a legendary 97-pitch relief appearance in Game 3.
The Red Sox rewarded that effort and invested in what they believe is a promising future when they agreed to terms Thursday with Eovaldi on a four-year, $68 million contract.
The Red Sox saw retaining the 28-year-old Eovaldi as the centerpiece of their offseason strategy. He rejoins Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez to form what again should be a strong rotation.
Since the end of the World Series, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Eovaldi was a player the Sox wanted to retain.
“We’re very happy to have Nathan back with us,” Dombrowski said. “He did a tremendous job for us last season, playing a significant role in helping us win the division and the World Series.
“His performance in the postseason was outstanding, both as a starting pitcher and as a reliever.”
Eovaldi also landed a trip to Las Vegas. The Sox will host a news conference there on Monday, the first day of the Winter Meetings.
Eovaldi was 3-3 with a 3.33 earned run average in 12 games after being acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays July 25. He then appeared in six postseason games and allowed only four earned runs over 22⅓ innings.
Eovaldi won the pivotal third game of the Division Series against the Yankees, giving up one run over seven innings in New York. He then started Game 3 of the American League Championship Series and beat the Houston Astros with six strong innings.
From there, he became a reliever as manager Alex Cora aggressively used several starters out of the bullpen to secure games.
But the effort became an emotional rallying point for the Sox, who won Games 4 and 5 to clinch the Series.
Cora called a team meeting after Game 3 to praise Eovaldi and assure the Sox they would recover.
“That was the moment,” Cora said earlier this month. “For him to go out there and pitch the way he did, it was unreal. That was such a performance.”
Eovaldi is 44-53 with a 4.16 ERA over seven seasons in the majors with the Dodgers, Marlins, Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox.
The shift started last season when Eovaldi gained consistent command of a cutter. Using that pitch kept hitters from sitting on his fastball.
Eovaldi also benefitted from the Red Sox refining his location within the strike zone, something they feel he can further build on next season.
The final two months of the season led to a financial bonanza. Eovaldi had signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the Rays after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in 2016. Now he has a contract worth an average of $17 million a year.
For the Sox, the 2019 season will be a reunion tour. World Series MVP Steve Pearce re-signed in November and now Eovaldi is back.
The only need now is to add depth to the bullpen. Closer Craig Kimbrel and setup man Joe Kelly remain free agents but could be replaced with cheaper alternatives on the market.
Kimbrel, 30, is seeking a long-term commitment of as many as six seasons, while Kelly is being marketed as a starter or closer.
David Robertson, Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, Jeurys Familia, and Adam Ottavino are among the relievers available.
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Vice president of player personnel Jared Banner is leaving the Red Sox for an opportunity with a different organization, the Globe learned.
Banner, who joined the Sox as an intern in 2007, played a large role in international professional scouting.
He worked under senior vice president Allard Baird, who joined the Mets last month.
The Sox, for now, plan to have their international professional scouting handled by evaluators from their international amateur and domestic professional staffs.