Boston lost last night for the fifth straight game, but still managed to clinch a spot in the postseason when Texas lost 3,000 miles away and a few hours later.
Most of the Red Sox stuck around after their loss to watch the Rangers on television in the clubhouse, but getting into the playoffs that way doesn’t exactly lend itself to gregarious celebration. At least not publicly.
Here’s how Alex Speier of WEEI.com described the late-night scene at Fenway Park:
And so, the Sox celebrated. Behind the closed doors of the clubhouse, the muffled sounds were of players hollering and, as manager Terry Francona had suggested just a couple days earlier, grown men behaving like little boys. Because the ballpark was empty save for team employees and the couple dozen remaining members of the media, there were no snapshots of a celebration: no Riverdance, no opportunity to spray the fans with champagne, no occasion to storm nearby watering holes and pour drinks for the celebrating fans.
The clubhouse was never opened to the media, instead a steady drip of six bubbly- and beer-soaked players making their way into the concourse just outside of the clubhouse to offer their reactions to the accomplishment. The exchanges were a bit awkward, as the players left the thumping bass of the clubhouse for the silence of the empty ballpark, but the enthusiasm, sense of achievement and anticipation for another October run nevertheless came through.
Speier puts a nice spin on it, but based on their Twitter updates there were quite a few media members not thrilled with waiting around until the wee hours of the night for a handful of players to emerge from the partying clubhouse with quotes. Photographers from Reuters and the Associated Press didn’t even stick around, so we’ll have to take Mike Lowell at his word when he said that Jonathan Papelbon “is probably in a thong right now with goggles and drinking Budweiser.”
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.