Athletics

MLB free agency: Nathan Eovaldi fit Red Sox price range, but not A's

MLB free agency: Nathan Eovaldi fit Red Sox price range, but not A's

The Hot Stove is starting to leave simmer and we can finally feel the heat. This free agency, it's started with pitching. And the second piece to the puzzle is Nathan Eovaldi. 

After becoming a postseason hero, Eovaldi is returning to the Red Sox, according to multiple national reports. The two sides have agreed to a four-year, $67.5 million deal, according to Mark Feinsand. 

For all he did in the Boston's World Series run, Eovaldi clearly placed himself outside of the A's and many others' price range. Between the Rays and Red Sox, Eovaldi went 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA, but then in 22 1/3 innings during the playoffs, he allowed just four earned runs. 

Perhaps no other team in baseball needs starting pitching more than the A's. Oakland essentially has no starting rotation right now -- that's not an exaggeration -- but now they can see how much top arms are costing teams. 

Patrick Corbin cost the Nationals $140 million and the Red Sox are paying Eovaldi, who has already had Tommy John surgery twice, just under $70 million. The A's are already in talks with bringing back Trevor Cahill, which won't take a big chunk out of their wallet.

After surprising everyone last season, Billy Beane has made it clear starting pitching is his No. 1 target this offseason. Does that mean taking a long look at Dallas Keuchel now that Corbin and Eovaldi are gone? 

The Red Sox are primed to make a repeat run, and if the A's want to build off last season, they're going to have to get serious about starting pitchers. 

A's 2019 Projections: Josh Phegley could start unless team makes moves

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A's 2019 Projections: Josh Phegley could start unless team makes moves

Editor's note: Over the next few weeks, NBC Sports California will be analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.

Unless the A's add another catcher, Josh Phegley is poised to get the most playing time of his big league career. Phegley and Chris Herrmann are currently the only catchers on the A's active roster and they figure to platoon behind the plate.

Last season, Phegley hit .204/.255/.344 with two home runs, seven doubles, and 15 RBI in 39 games. The 30-year-old re-signed with the A's in November for one year at $1.075 million.

Phegley has a career slash line of .223/.264/.372. His best season came in 2015 when he hit .249/.300/.449 with a career-high nine homers and 34 RBI.

Phegley has performed slightly better against left-handed pitching throughout his career, hitting .243/.279/.414. The right-handed hitter figures to get most of next season's at-bats against southpaws, with Herrmann starting against righties.

Phegley has also been solid defensively throughout his career, maintaining a .992 fielding percentage and throwing out 33 percent of attempted base stealers, five points above the league average.

Baseball Reference projects Phegley to hit .223/.285/.368 next year with six home runs, 15 doubles, and 28 RBI. They estimate him at 242 at-bats, which would be a career-high.

[RELATED: Chris Herrmann 2019 projections]

Phegley has done everything the A's have asked of him over the years and proven to be a consistent player and great clubhouse presence. We expect a slight improvement from last season, especially if he gets increased playing time.

Projection: .227/.297/.374, 6 HR, 12 doubles, 27 RBI

2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. has Kyler Murray as No. 13 pick

2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. has Kyler Murray as No. 13 pick

Ever since A's top-prospect Kyler Murray declared for the NFL Draft, the question is how he would fair in football.

And while we are still waiting to determine if football is indeed in his imminent future, draft experts are determining where they picture Murray will go. 

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., has Murray going in the first round: the No. 13 overall pick to the Dolphins.

"The Dolphins need to rebuild," Kiper writes. "What better way to start that rebuild than to take the Heisman Trophy winner? Now, just because Murray has entered the draft, doesn't mean he's sticking to football. He could stick back out and play baseball. But I'm treating him as if he's all-in for now, and if he goes to the combine -- he's going to run a blazing 40-yard dash -- and goes through workouts for the teams, I expect him to be picked in Round 1. This is an unprecedented situation for a 5-foot-10 quarterback, but it's going to be fun to watch over the next few months."

Murray's height is the one knock on the Heisman Trophy winner, but Doug Flutie says hello.

Murray sticks out by being a phenomenal passer and runner. He threw for 4,361 yards at Oklahoma and ran for 1,001 more yards on the ground. The combo of his arm strength and his speed makes him the type of quarterback teams are willing to take a chance on. 

[RELATED: Baseball, football scouts weigh in on Murray's decision]

It's still early in projections and especially early in teams' evaluations, but the Heisman Trophy winner appears to be a lock for the first round.

It's just a matter of when.