A potentially significant Cuban defection

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Via MLB Trade rumors comes word that a 21 year-old Cuban pitcher with a 100 m.p.h. fastball has defected (source, in Spanish, here).
His name is Aroldis Chapman — a guy who, if he harnesses his stuff and
makes the bigs, will likely go by the name “A-Chap” — and he pitched
for Cuba in the WBC. FanGraphs’ R.J. Anderson broke his stuff down during the tournament:

The 21-year-old left-hander will be remembered for his velocity
readings as much as anything since he threw more than 70% fastballs and
recorded an average velocity of 93 miles per hour. On his 12th pitch of
the afternoon Chapman hit triple digits with a staggering 100.2 miles
per hour. As the game’s announcers noted — in between giving us
updates on Chapman’s LiveJournal mood — Chapman has apparently hit 102
miles per hour in Cuban competition.

If you’re wondering why I’m not discussing Chapman’s off-speed stuff
much, that’s because he didn’t throw much of it it. Chapman’s slider
seems to have potential with excellent bend. It’s simply a matter of
harnessing control and command of the pitch. Something that may or may
not happen.

I think Crash Davis said it best: “Christ, you don’t need a
quadrophonic Blaupunkt! What you need is a curveball! In the show,
everyone can hit heat.”

Whether Mr. Chapman makes the show, then, will likely depend on
whether he can find that command and control Anderson was talking
about. Not that someone won’t give him a couple of million before then
banking that he can.

Danny Espinosa reportedly skipped Nationals Winterfest because of Adam Eaton

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Danny Espinosa #8 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after teammate Chris Heisey #14 (not pictured) hits a two run home run in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.

A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.

Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.

Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.

Nick Cafardo: Red Sox should deal Pomeranz, not Buchholz

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on September 18, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 5-4. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.

The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.

Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.

Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.