BOSTON — Dave Dombrowski doesn’t usually tip his hand when it comes to the moves he’s working on, but he’s had a hard time keeping his desire to re-sign Nathan Eovaldi under wraps this winter.
Eovaldi is believed to be the Red Sox’ top priority in free agency and the sides have stayed in contact since the end of the World Series. Though key relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly are also free agents, Eovaldi looks like Dombrowski’s clear top target at this point.
“We’ve expressed we do have interest in bringing Nathan back,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve talked to him, but so have a lot of other people. There’s a lot of interest in him.”
A report from MLB.com late last week noted that Eovaldi’s market was “heating up,” mentioning the Astros as one of Boston’s prime competitors in signing the righty. Though none of the top free-agent starters available this winter have signed to this point, the expectation is that dominoes could start falling before the start of next week’s winter meetings.
Dombrowski expects to add bullpen pieces before Opening Day, with free agency being the more likely avenue to accomplish that. Though the team is comfortable with its internal rotation options, a reunion with Eovaldi would provide a bit of a luxury for a club with some question marks in the bullpen.
“He’s a guy that we love,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve talked about that. He’s got a lot of choices at this time. I don’t think we’re in the position where we have to keep anybody in particular. You’d like to keep people, by all means. You’d like to keep as many of our guys together. We had a good club. I also think that in any situation you go into, you have to look at alternatives. Just like every winter time, you have an order of ranking players and you respond based on what happens.”
Manager Alex Cora praised Eovaldi on Monday, saying that his relief performance in Game 3 of the World Series jumped out as the key moment of the Red Sox’ run through October. Cora, who is actively involved in Boston’s free agent recruiting, would love to have Eovaldi as a weapon again in 2019.
“He’s a guy who’s a game-changer,” Cora said. “We know the stuff he has. He got better with time. He went through the process of mixing up his pitches, attacking guys in different spots. Can’t give that much information, there’s a lot of teams (in on) him. Hopefully, it happens and he’s part of this.”