NY Sports Day
Joe McDonald

McDonald: Eovaldi Loss Is Bigger Than It Seems

Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire

These are the types of growing pains a rebuild will give you.

The news today of Nathan Eovaldi requiring Tommy John surgery is a bigger blow for the Yankees than it seems to be.

At plain sight, the Yankees are losing a back of the rotation guy, who can be replaced. But peel back the layer and you will see the Bombers are losing a power pitcher, who potentially could move up to the front of the rotation.

“It’s a huge blow,” he said before today’s game and Eovaldi will go for his second Tommy John, which will require 14-18 months of rehab.

Goodbye 2016. Goodbye 2017.

“It’s the second one, so it’s a big deal,” Eovaldi said. “Hopefully everything goes well with the surgery and I’ll work hard to get back.”

He’s actually undergoing two surgeries, which complicates matters even more.

Since Eovaldi is eligible for arbitration this year and then a free agent after 2017, the Yankees will probably just cut bait and not tender him a contract after this season. So it’s very possible this was the last time we saw Eovaldi in the Bronx as a home player.

And that’s where it hurts the Yankees. With the exception of Luis Severino and to an extent Chad Green, all of these young studs they are bringing up are position players. Sure they got a few pitching prospects, but those guys are a year or two away.

Without Eovaldi, the Yankees would lose either a piece they were counting on next season or a piece they could trade in the off-season to strengthen the team.

His numbers were kind of pedestrian, going 9-8 with a 4.76 ERA, but there were brilliant starts in there along with a bunch of clunkers. To put it nicely, he was still developing.

And he could have been valuable. Since he is just 26, there may have been a team out there that would have taken him in a package. Losing that may limit the Yankees, since they will probably not want to include some of their prized prospects in any trade.

With good developing youngsters, and some veterans they won’t be able to trade, like Jacoby Elsbury, the Yankees could put a credible lineup on the field every night next season and if they could get decent pitching, they could contend.

With an aging CC Sabathia and a disappointing Masahiro Tanaka anchoring the rotation, the Yankees will need to do something. Severino is showing he’s not ready for primetime, and without Eovaldi, there’s going to a hole the Yankees will need to fill.

Fortunately they have money, but after purging the roster of overpriced veterans, will the Steinbrenners want to dip their toes in that market?

And because pitching is so fragile and pitching in New York so tough, the Yankees are not going to want to accelerate the clock on any of the youngsters. They did that with Severino last season and saw him take a step back.

So again, this complicates matters. Eovaldi, on paper, may not look like a big loss, but he gives the Yankees a hole to fill.

And that’s not just a growing pain.


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