The Boston Red Sox finished last in the AL East after a strong playoff run in 2021. Always armed with lofty contending ambitions, the Red Sox are then expected to make a splash in free agency. And they planned to do just that after they pursued former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin.

However, it was the Tampa Bay Rays, of all teams, that managed to beat the Red Sox for Eflin’s signature. The Rays inked the 28-year old pitcher to a three-year, $40 million deal, which was reportedly the same offer the Red Sox had on the table.

Free agents have a myriad of factors to take into consideration when making their free agency decision. Thus, per Chris Cotillo, Zach Eflin decided to sign with the Rays instead of the Red Sox due to the franchise’s proximity to his Orlando hometown.

Moreover, Jon Morosi reported that the Rays truly pulled out all the stops to convince Eflin to sign with them. Morosi wrote that “top Rays officials visited Eflin’s home for an in-person meeting early in the free-agent process.”

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Thus, it will be difficult for Red Sox fans to pin the blame on executive Chaim Bloom, who put up a competitive offer on the table. Perhaps the Red Sox brass could have offered more years or guaranteed money to sway the negotiations in their favor. But alas, there is considerable uncertainty in free agency, and this is another piece of evidence to support that fact.

Zach Eflin pitched 75.2 innings in 2022, as he split time between starting and coming off the Phillies bullpen, tallying a 4.04 ERA. During the postseason, Eflin was locked into a relief role, and he performed rather well. It remains to be seen, however, how the Rays end up utilizing the versatile pitcher.