When the New York Yankees released Nathan Eovaldi yesterday, they squandered a tremendous deal of worth.
A 26-year-old with an electric fastball and a nearly untouchable splitter, both of which were close to a level of consistent execution. Not to mention, coming off serious, yet recoverable, injury, a man that would not cost his current organization an extra penny.
That is what the New York Yankees walked away from when they unconditionally released Nathan Eovaldi under 24 hours ago.
With the flamethrowing right-hander coming off two elbow surgeries, his contract year (2017) was already out of the equation. Barring an unforeseen miraculous return, the entire campaign would have seen him occupying a 60-day DL slot, making no true impact in the process.
Taking those factors into account, the Yankees opted for simplified ideology, cutting ties with an unneeded piece to the short-term puzzle. Under their fallacious conception, another team would scoop him up following an extended recovery and deal with the consequent growing pains.
The error that Brian Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner, and company made was purely assessing the short-term.
Eovaldi, who was both frustrating and rewarding in his Yankee tenure, is arguably the organization’s best long-term answer in the starting rotation. Had he recovered, putting the finishing touches on his arsenal in Tampa, the youngster would have been the Yankees’ closest thing to an ace.
With question marks hovering around each and every aspect of their rotation, extremely weak pitching free agent classes in 2017 and 2018, and incredibly steep asking prices by way of the trade market, the Houston native was undoubtedly the best in-house solution.
He was the classic case of a halted work in progress. One which the franchise perceived as a failure, improperly judging the value and potential behind Eovaldi’s lively right arm.
Granted, his shortcomings were evident. He was not quite there yet.
The 298 hits and 33 home runs he surrendered throughout his two years in the Bronx, resulting in a 4.45 overall ERA, only proved that statement.
With that said, his flashes of brilliance outweighed his prolonged funks. His stretches of sheer dominance provided hopefulness about what was in store.
Most importantly, he was — and, sadly enough, still is — the safest bet.
Luis Severino has not become the starting pitcher he deked the Yankees into thinking he would become. Michael Pineda continues to put forth the most mysterious identity of any pitcher in major league baseball. CC Sabathia does not fit into New York’s plans beyond 2017. And Masahiro Tanaka, while the staff’s undisputed ace and lone source of fortification, may not be a Yankee beyond the upcoming season — his impending opt-out draws reasonable question marks.
Without Eovaldi, the Yankees only possess the unexpected.
If the man with a .676 winning-percentage in pinstripes was healthy and on the hill, Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild would at least know what to expect on a given day, with a higher ceiling to be met down the road.
Now, if internal minor league answers do not surface, the Yankees must look elsewhere.
By parting ways with Eovaldi, they parted ways with their starting pitching plans beyond 2017. When another organization realizes his worth, which will not take long, they will be fortunate enough to throw massive upside into the mix at a significantly underpriced rate.