Nathan Eovaldi

Will Giants take shot at Nathan Eovaldi, another risky starting pitcher?

Will Giants take shot at Nathan Eovaldi, another risky starting pitcher?

SAN FRANCISCO — Generally, there are two types of starting pitchers: Those who have been hurt, and those who will get hurt.

That’s just the reality of pitching, and despite the risks, just about every team will dive into the starting pitching market this offseason. It’s just too hard to have a fully homegrown rotation. Even when he was with the Dodgers -- a player development powerhouse over the past decade -- new Giants head of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi occasionally gave out tens of millions to starting pitchers.

The Dodgers tried to mitigate some of the risk by signing veterans to shorter contracts, but even that was a mixed bag.

Scott Kazmir signed a three-year, $48 million deal after the 2015 season and made just 26 starts for the Dodgers. Brandon McCarthy got that much over four years, and he made double-digit starts only once over the next three seasons. Rich Hill signed for — you guessed it — $48 million over three years and has pitched well, although the Dodgers have at times managed his workload.

[PAVLOVIC: Machado doesn't fit with Giants even if they clear infield space]

Zaidi might change his methods now that he’s in San Francisco, but in Los Angeles, the front office certainly had a type. Zaidi and Andrew Friedman were not afraid to take risks on older players, knowing they had the rotation depth to make up for injuries. At the same time, they shied away from the massive contracts, which lessened the blow a bit when those guys got hurt.

This year’s list of free agents presents some guys who would fit that mold. J.A. Happ and Charlie Morton are on the high end of that market in terms of talent, and guys like Gio Gonzalez and Anibal Sanchez should fit the “two-year contract” mold. Perhaps a marquee starter like Dallas Keuchel will find the market to be unexpectedly cold.

There’s one guy, though, who fits right in with McCarthy, Hill and Kazmir in terms of risk and reward.

Nathan Eovaldi is a late bloomer who twice has had Tommy John surgery. At the same time, he’s just 28 years old, his fastball averages 97 mph, and he was one of the stars of the Red Sox's run to a World Series title.

[PAVLOVIC: How Giants could/should use Harper contract money in free agency]

Eovaldi checks off a lot of those boxes that made guys like Hill attractive to the Dodgers. When Eovaldi is right, he’s dominant, and he certainly showed in the postseason that he’s a selfless teammate -- something that’s important to Zaidi and to the holdovers in the Giants' front office.

The Giants could look at the health concerns in a couple of ways. They have the starting depth — with the emergence of Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez — to monitor someone like Eovaldi closely and try to maximize his performance without running him out there 33 times. On the other hand, the Giants have a $130 million starter (Johnny Cueto) on the shelf, and they’re unsure of what they’ll get from a $90 million starter (Jeff Samardzija). Any pitcher with Eovaldi’s injury history might scare them off from the start.

With the Dodgers, Zaidi wasn’t scared off by injuries. They took big swings to try to add rotation depth, and Eovaldi certainly would fit with Zaidi’s past pursuits.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Thursday is dedicated to free agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.

Will Phillies be in the mix for Nate Eovaldi?
How Eovaldi set himself up for big payday, possibly from Nationals
How does Eovaldi fit the White Sox?
Is Eovaldi too expensive for A's?

Top five free agents A's should target during MLB hot stove


Top five free agents A's should target during MLB hot stove

The 2018 baseball season has come to an end, which means free agency is officially underway. Teams may submit qualifying offers to their own free agents during the next five days. Beginning Friday evening, non-contracted players are free to sign wherever they choose.

The A's have a handful of key free agents, including All-Star second baseman Jed Lowrie, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, relief pitchers Shawn Kelley and Jeurys Familia, and starters Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson.

For now, let's focus on potential outside additions. We have compiled a list of the top five realistic free agents Oakland should target. (Spoiler alert: they're all pitchers.)

Nathan Eovaldi

Improved starting pitching should be the top priority for the A's, and Eovaldi would be a great addition to the rotation. The 28-year-old helped the Red Sox to their World Series title, going 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in 22 1/3 innings this postseason.

In 22 regular season outings, Eovaldi was 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. The right-hander earned just $2 million, and while he figures to earn a significant raise, the A's shouldn't be scared off.

Eovaldi has a career ERA of 4.16 in seven seasons and is just entering his prime. With Sean Manaea out for most, if not all, of next season, and both Jharel Cotton and A.J. Puk coming off Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi could slot in near the top of Oakland's rotation.

CC Sabathia

The Vallejo native is 38 years old but showed he still has something left in the tank, going 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts with the Yankees this season.

A six-time All-Star and former Cy Young winner, Sabathia earned $10 million in 2018, but is unlikely to see that type of money as he nears 39. The big left-hander might even take a hometown discount to play for the A's, especially since they figure to be a playoff contender.

Sabathia could provide a solid number three or four starter in Oakland's rotation, not to mention being a fan favorite at the Coliseum.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Despite missing time with a groin injury, Ryu had an excellent season with the Dodgers. The 31-year-old southpaw went 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 15 starts, striking out 89 in 82 1/3 innings.

Ryu earned $7.8 million in the final season of a six-year contract and should garner an even higher salary in free agency. But with his talent and consistency, as well as his relative youth, he would be worth it for the A's.

In five Major League seasons, Ryu has a 3.20 career ERA. If he were to end up in green and gold, he would likely challenge Mike Fiers for the top spot in the A's rotation.

Jesse Chavez

The A's bullpen was terrific in 2018, but it will likely lose a couple of key pieces in Familia and Kelley. Chavez, a former A, went 5-2 with a 2.55 ERA and 1.06 WHIP this season between the Rangers and Cubs.

The 35-year-old has made a smooth transition from starter to reliever, notching 92 strikeouts this season, compared to just 17 walks.

Chavez earned $1.5 million and should be affordable for the A's. He could provide a nice sixth or seventh inning option for manager Bob Melvin.

Sergio Romo

The former Giant had a solid season in Tampa Bay, going 3-4 with 25 saves and a 4.14 earned run average.

Romo, 35, recorded 75 strikeouts against 20 walks in 67 1/3 innings. The veteran right-hander should also be affordable after earning $2.5 million in 2018.

Romo has already proven he can win in the Bay Area, capturing three World Series titles with the Giants. Oakland could certainly use his experience and versatility in the pen.

Five realistic free agent starting pitcher targets for A's

Five realistic free agent starting pitcher targets for A's

The 2019 A's starting rotation will probably look a lot different than it did at the end of 2018. Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson are all unrestricted free agents, and Mike Fiers is up for arbitration.

While the A's do have some reinforcements within the organization, they could certainly benefit from a shrewd free agent signing or two. Obviously, Oakland won't be in the running for the top big-money free agents, ruling out pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and J.A. Happ, but here are five options that could be in their price range.

Nathan Eovaldi

Eovaldi put together a strong 2018 between Tampa Bay and Boston. The right-hander went 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 22 appearances, including 21 starts. In seven career seasons, he has compiled a 4.16 ERA.

Eovaldi earned just $2 million this season, and while he figures to get more than that next year, he should still be affordable for a team like the A's. At the age of 28, he is right in his prime and could provide a strong veteran presence for Oakland.

[ROSS: Looking ahead to bright future]

Clay Buchholz

Buchholz pitched brilliantly in 17 starts with the Diamondbacks this season. The 34-year-old turned back the clock, going 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. In 12 big league seasons, Buchholz has a 3.86 ERA.

The Diamondbacks only paid Buchholz $1.5 million for his services in 2018 and as he approaches the age of 35, he likely won't get much more next season. The two-time All-Star could prove to be a nice under-the-radar signing for a team like Oakland.

Jeremy Hellickson

After a rough 2017, Jeremy Hellickson bounced back this season with the Nationals. The right-hander went 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 17 starts for Washington. He has a 4.07 career ERA in nine Major League seasons.

Hellickson only earned a base salary of $2 million this year and should be affordable. The 31-year-old could provide the A's with another reliable veteran starter for a reasonable price.

[RATTO: Why this is a big offseason]

Tyson Ross

Tyson Ross, a Berkeley native and former A, went 8-9 with a 4.15 ERA in 31 games this season, including 23 starts. The former All-Star began the year with the Padres, before being shipped to the Cardinals at the trade deadline. After joining St. Louis, Ross posted a 2.73 ERA in 26 1/3 innings.

The 31-year-old right-hander earned a base salary of $1.75 million in 2018, and doesn't figure to get a whole lot more next season. As a hometown pitcher, Ross would certainly fit into the A's “Rooted in Oakland” campaign, and he could add some depth to the rotation.

CC Sabathia

Speaking of hometown pitchers, Vallejo native CC Sabathia could be a terrific signing at the age of 38. The left-hander showed he still has something in the tank in his 18th season, going 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts with the Yankees.

Sabathia made $10 million in 2018, but maybe he would take a hometown discount to play for the A's in his 19th big league season. It makes a lot of sense for both sides, as Sabathia would get another chance to play for a playoff contender before he retires, while Oakland would get a six-time All-Star and fan favorite.