Nathan Eovaldi has been one of the revelations of Red Sox camp thus far. And to think some thought it would be a longshot that the pitcher would actually find himself living life in Fort Myers this time of year.
But he is, and for that, you can give a huge thanks to the Houston Astros.
After the performances he turned in throughout the postseason, along with the righty's relatively young age (the second-youngest free agent pitcher on the open market), it was given Eovaldi was going to get significant interest in free agency. And he did. The Angels really wanted him, as did the Phillies.
"It definitely was flattering," Eovaldi told WEEI.com. "It’s nice to know all the hard work has paid off. You just never really know what’s going to happen."
But he kind of did, a lot earlier than anyone truly knew.
As it turned out Eovaldi told his agency, ACES, that there were only two teams he had interest in signing with: the Red Sox and Astros.
Rumors started circulating in late November Houston was, indeed, one of the most aggressive pursuers of the pitcher. Nope. As Eovaldi now explains it, this was a one-horse race.
"Houston is home for me," he said. "I would have had more talks with the Astros but they just didn’t want any part of it so they were out of the question.
"It’s just one of those things where you accept it for what it is, it’s a business and you go on to the next. Both the Red Sox and Astros were my top priorities. They were my top two. That was our game-plan going in. The Red Sox was where I ended up ultimately, so here I am.
"I was a little surprised it didn’t go any further (with the Astros). Really there were no talks. I was a little surprised by that. But I understand it’s a business and there are no hard feelings or anything like that. I’m happy with the deal I got."
The deal Eovaldi got was four years, $68 million with the Red Sox. Meanwhile, the Astros chose to ride into 2019 with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole both on contract years, Colin McHugh as their third starter and Wade Miley as their starting pitching acquisition thanks to a one-year, $4.5 million contract.
"Even though Houston wasn’t interested a lot of teams showed interest so It was a very humbling experience," explained Eovaldi, who looked impressive in his first Grapefruit League outing, Wednesday afternoon. "It was kind of one of those things where they were like, ‘We’ll get back to you.’ We didn’t want to be in that waiting game. We wanted to get a deal done. It made it easy. The Red Sox were one of the teams I wanted so I wasn’t going to sit back and wait. I wanted to jump on this opportunity because it’s not always going to be there. I’m happy with the deal I got here. Ultimately you want to be with a winning organization."