Nathan Eovaldi chose Rangers to win championships? Yep. Here’s why
(Rangers Today/Jeff Wilson)
ARLINGTON — The Texas Rangers, the not-so-proud possessors of six straight sub.-500 records, introduced the latest addition to their starting rotation Thursday, and did so by saying that right-hander Nathan Eovaldi wants to win championships in this new phase of his career.
Championships and the Rangers haven’t been in the same sentence often throughout the years.
Here’s one: The Rangers have never won a World Series championship.
Eovaldi did in 2018 with the Red Sox, whom he left in order to sign a two-year, $34 million deal to play in his home state.
And to win championships. The Rangers, he said, have the foundation to do so.
“I think it’s about the way the ownership’s been going to build an organization from the ground up,” Eovaldi said. “It takes more than just the 25-man and 40-man guys. It takes the entire organization, and I feel that they want to win. It starts with this season.”
He’s a steadfast believer that quality starting pitching wins championships. He joins a rotation that includes newcomers Jacob deGrom, Andrew Heaney and former teammate Jake Odorizzi, who could slide into a swing role in which he makes 10 starts in 2023 while serving as a key member of the bullpen.
Martin Perez and Jon Gray are 2022 holdovers, and Dane Dunning and Glenn Otto appeared to be ticketed as rotation depth in the minors.
A good rotation makes the bullpen better, which makes the team better. The lineup doesn’t feel pressure to score eight runs to win a game, which makes the hitters better.
“It makes the whole thing better,” general manager Chris Young said.
Eovaldi, who turns 33 on Feb. 13, is going to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic during spring training. He said he is already throwing bullpen sessions and feels great. He was limited to only 20 starts in 2022 because of back and shoulder injuries, but he finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting in 2021.
He continues the Rangers’ offseason trend of identifying pitchers who limit walks while striking out hitters at an above-average clip. He said he would rather have one-pitch outs than strikeouts, but with his five-pitch arsenal feels confident that he will pick up an out as long as he jumps ahead early in counts.
“The hitters have to earn their way on base,” Young said. “It certainly was a focal point for us in terms of our offseason targets in the area that we’ve dramatically needed to improve. And I think we’ve addressed that in terms of the pitchers that we have this offseason.”
Eovaldi is also excited to be pitching in Texas. A product of Alvin High School, the same school that produced Nolan Ryan, Eovaldi lives in the Houston area and said that the short commute to Arlington will make life easier on his wife and two young kids, and him, too.
Everyone is happier when they are with their family. Geography factored into his decision on where to sign.
“I mean, it’s everything,” he said. “I think one of the biggest things is family.”
Eovaldi has a new baseball family now, and he’s aiming to win championships with it.
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org