MLB: ALDS-Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

The Red Sox signed Nathan Eovaldi to a four-year contract.

THEY ARE KNOWN in sports as “rentals.”

You know, guys you acquire late in a season who you think might help you get to the promised land.

Sometimes they work out. Far too often, they don’t.

Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi were both ridiculous successes helping the Red Sox win their fourth World Series in 15 years. One was the Series MVP, the other a guy who pitched deep into the night and received a standing ovation from his teammates after LOSING the game.

Now, both are coming back.

First, Pearce, a lifelong Red Sox fan and a journeyman who has played for all five AL East teams, re-upped for a year and will platoon at first base as Boston seeks to be the first repeat winner since the 2000 Yankees.

Then, Eovaldi, the survivor of two Tommy John surgeries, agreed to a four-year contract worth a reported $67.5 million — a quality contract for player and team.

For the player, it provides security and the exclamation point on a comeback. For the team, it provides a quality starter to drop right into the rotation a year before the contracts of both Chris Sale and Rick Porcello expire.

Eovaldi and the Sox were a marriage made in heaven and now have renewed their vows.

The banner-raising at the home opener will now have the two “rentals” who were both vital parts of the team getting there. It all made too much sense.

The cost, besides money, was lefty Jalen Beeks, and Beeks could turn out to be a quality pitcher. Sometimes it works out that way (see John Smoltz and so many others). But the Red Sox won with Eovaldi and now seem to have a pitcher entering his prime, one with fewer innings in his tank because of injury. He is a guy who has proven no stage is too big.

Win, win.

Sunshine state

Death, taxes, cold winters in New England, the Patriots winning the AFC Least.

All sure things — and the Pats (yawn) can take care of that formality Sunday in Miami as they continue their march to the playoffs.

The Dolphins are 6-6. They’re 5-1 at home, where New England has had troubles in the past, like last year, when the only Pats loss in the last 12 regular-season games was suffered in Miami.

“They play good at home,” said the Pats’ Patrick Chung. “They’re 5-1 at home, 1-5 on the road. It’s two totally different teams. They’re a good team regardless. They have a lot of good players, lot of explosive players. They’re dealing with some injuries, but they’re still a good team and they’re at home and they’re going to be ready for us.”

Three of the last four games on the New England schedule are against the division, always the worst in football. There’s a visit to Pittsburgh next week before home games against Buffalo and the Jets.

“This is a lot different team than we saw earlier in the year, eight weeks ago,” said Bill Belichick. “They’ve changed some personnel things. They’ve done a really good job of winning close games, playing good football situationally and that’s how they’ve won a lot of close games.”

They have.

But they’re also 2-4 in their last six, with only wins over the Jets (13-6) and Bills (21-17) over that span. They are a minus-56 in points for the season, much of that coming from a 38-7 pasting at Gillette Sept. 30.

The Patriots are 10-point favorites to go to 10-3.

Heating up

It’s still early in the process and the winter meetings are next week, but the baseball offseason has already become as interesting as ever, with Eovaldi agreeing just after the Cardinals acquired Paul Goldschmidt.

The big fish — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — are out there, Harper having turned down 10 years/$300 million to stay in Washington, where the Nationals signed Patrick Corbin, he of the 56-54 lifetime record, to a six-year deal worth $140 million.

The Yankees and Phillies were among the teams not willing to go past five years — and Yankees President Randy Levine likes what he already sees from his team. The Yankees acquired lefty James Paxton (better than Corbin?) and still have work to do to truly challenge the Red Sox.

“I think we’re as good as the Red Sox right now,” Levine said at a Pinstripe Bowl media conference. “I think they had a better postseason than us. … I said that postseason could have gone either way with a couple of innings.

“They have a great team and they’re going to be a really great team for a long time, but I think we’re as good as they are.”

The Yankees were reportedly not willing to go past three years on Eovaldi.

Red Sox President Sam Kennedy, on WEEI, talking about the team visiting the White House: “We don’t see it as a political event. Clearly, when you go to the White House, it’s an honor and a privilege, and one we take very, very seriously. It has never been, from our perspective, an endorsement of a politician, or policy, or procedures. As I said, we’ve gone under Republican administrations, Democrat administrations. What happens from here is not up to us. We just continue to try to run the franchise with the best eye on long-term decision making and doing what’s right for our players and fans.

“We understand some may disagree with this decision. We completely respect that. We’ve got 330 men and women within the organization. Certainly, people will have different personal opinions, but this is one of those moments where you try to put personal opinions aside and do what’s best for the organization. This is a team that deserves to be celebrated, they deserve the recognition that they’ve gotten and will continue to get.”

It’s over

Belichick put a quick end to his on-field spat with Minnesota’s Adam Thielen.

“I have a lot of respect for Thielen,” Belichick told “He’s a great player. I don’t even really remember what happened. He’s a great player and it was around that fourth down call. I have a lot of respect for him and the way he plays the game and what he’s accomplished.”

Brandon Browner, who had a nine-game “career” with the Patriots, was a very talented football player and not a particularly pleasant person to deal with. He arrived in New England ready to serve a four-game drug suspension and first meetings with him in camp revealed a guy who didn’t really like dealing with the media.

But a murderer?

Well, an attempted murderer. He was sentenced this week to eight years, thus joining the mini Pats fraternity of killers. He should be remembered for this — and not his immense talent.

This and that

…MLB Network named Game 4 of the ALCS between the Red Sox and Astros — an 8-6 Boston win marred by controversy on the Jose Altuve homer that wasn’t (according to the call) in the first inning — as the top game of 2018.

…Forbes, in its 20th annual listing, has the Bruins as No. 5 in value among the NHL teams, at $925 million. The Rangers lead at $1.55 billion.

David Backes after the Bruins were shut out for the fifth time in 27 games by the Panthers Tuesday night: “Tonight was one of those nights where I don’t think we played to our identity to what makes us successful.”

…Here we go again: Bovada has Josh McDaniels as the favorite to succeed Mike McCarthy in Green Bay. Said McDaniels this week: “I don’t really worry about the future and honestly, each week is a tremendous challenge and we try to stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand, which this week is obviously considerable considering that we haven’t had a lot of success down there.”

…Finally, Jayson Tatum on the Celtics’ early struggles: “There’s a lot of different reasons,” said Tatum. “Maybe we believed the hype too much and we didn’t come out and perform. There’s a big target on our back … Teams are coming after us and maybe we didn’t understand that fully. Nothing we can do about the past, just focus on each game.”


Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.