Buried in Rosenthal’s latest notes column is some dish on who the Nationals may be looking at as their next manager. Quick: which of these names is not like the others: Chip Hale, Bob Melvin, Jim Riggleman, Bobby Valentine.
The answer, of course, is Valentine, who casual fans in Washington have actually heard of and who may spur some excitement in a fanbase that desperately needs some.
Not that this makes him the best candidate. Indeed, Hale may actually be the most attractive candidate of them all. He is a former PCL manager of the year and won the league championship in 2002. In fact, he’s won as a manager at every level in the minor leagues. He also has the benefit of being 14 years younger than Valentine. You can’t simply assume that this makes it easier for him to relate to young guys than would Valentine, nor can you simply assume that he’d have more energy and all of that, because (a) Valentine is a different kind of guy than your average 60 year-old manager; and (b) well, you know what happens when we assume. But it does suggest those things, doesn’t it? At least to the point where the Nats should be very, very careful to test those kinds of things before entrusting their very young club to Valentine.
I feel more comfortable dismissing Riggleman and Melvin. Neither of them bring anything to the table that your average veteran, retread manager does not. Nice guys, I’m sure, but the Nats need something more than that. They need life and breath and excitement, and neither Riggleman nor Melvin have ever shown the ability to supply that. Valentine — because of his history, his time in Japan, and the fact that he’s just kind of a neat guy — and Hale — because he fits the profile of a young, accomplished manager ready to finally take over the reins of Major League team — each seem better positioned to do so.
Upshot: I don’t know enough about the merits of either Valentine or Hale to definitively say that one is superior to the other, but of the names mentioned thus far, they’d be my front runners.
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.
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.