2016 Statistics: 24 G, 4.76 ERA, 4.98 FIP, 7.00 K/9, 2.89 BB/9, 124.2 IP
2017 Contract Status: Arbitration eligible, under control through 2017
When the Yankees acquired Nathan Eovaldi from the Marlins, they were hoping that a new coach and a change of scenery could help him reach his full potential. Although he did add a splitter to his arsenal, the Yankees really never saw the results that they were hoping for. His first season with the Yankees came to a close early after he was shut down with elbow inflammation last September. He finished 2015 with a 4.20 ERA and 3.42 FIP through 154 and one-third innings pitched. It wasn’t a spectacular season, but he was worth 3.2 fWAR (a personal best for him). Unfortunately, Eovaldi followed that up with a career-worst 2016 season.
Eovaldi struggled right out of the gate, giving up a combined 12 earned runs through his first three starts. He would string together five bad starts, then follow them up with a handful of decent outings. For example, opponents hit just .239/.297/.336 against him in May. Then the month of June was an absolute disaster as he gave up a whopping 10 home runs with opponents slugging .696 against him. Oddly enough, Eovaldi never really had a problem with home runs prior to this season. He ended the year with strikeout and walk numbers almost identical to his 2015 numbers, yet his HR/9 jumped from 0.58 last year to 1.66 this year.
After such a horrendous June, the Yankees finally decided to move Eovaldi out of the rotation and into the bullpen. That experiment only lasted roughly two weeks, but he was quite successful during his brief experience working as a reliever. Eovaldi pitched seven and two-thirds scoreless innings in relief, and only gave up three hits. He put together a few decent starts after returning to the rotation before the injury bug struck.
On August 10th Eovaldi was removed from a start against the Red Sox after just one inning. His velocity had noticeably dipped and Eovaldi reported that he was feeling “a little pinch” with each throw. An MRI revealed that Eovaldi had a tear in his UCL, and that his flexor tendon had also torn off of his elbow (ouch). After receiving a second opinion, Eovaldi announced that he would have to undergo the second Tommy John surgery of his career (he had TJS for the first time while he was in high school).
Although Eovaldi is eligible for arbitration next season, the Yankees have very little reason to offer him a contract. He will miss the entire 2017 season while he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and he is set to hit free agency after next season. It doesn’t make sense for the Yankees to pay him next year while he goes through the rehab process. It is sad that it turned out this way, but we have likely seen the last of Eovaldi in pinstripes. Hopefully he heals nicely and is able to catch on with a new team during the 2018 season.