Phil Coke served as a left-handed specialist for the Yankees over the past two seasons, working strictly out of the bullpen while logging just 74.2 innings in 83 appearances. He pitched well, with a 3.74 ERA, 63/22 K/BB ratio, and .199 opponents’ average, but that success came while being matched up against left-handed hitters 60 percent of the time.
Coke likely would have been used similarly in 2010 had he stayed in New York, but after being traded to Detroit in the three-team Curtis Granderson deal there’s talk of the Tigers giving the 27-year-old southpaw a chance in their rotation. Here’s what general manager Dave Dombrowski had to say about the possibility:
There’s a chance, by all means. Our people liked him in the minors as a starter, and he had good numbers. Those will be some discussions that we have. I’m not making any declaration, because we haven’t made any decision. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had the opportunity to be one of our starters.
Coke was a starter for most of his minor-league career, but as Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes can attest to it’s often difficult for young pitchers to crack and stick in the Yankees’ rotation. Coke had already been shifted to the bullpen by the time he reached Triple-A, but he went 9-4 with a 2.51 ERA and 115/39 K/BB ratio in 118.1 innings as a starter at Double-A. Giving him an opportunity to be a solid mid-rotation starter before making him a good left-handed specialist certainly makes sense.
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.