Yesterday began with the AJC’s Dave O’Brien speculating that the Braves could maybe sign Johnny Damon. Today dawns with a move that is somewhat less inspiring:
Just a few hours after signing Troy Glaus, the Braves added his backup when
they agreed to terms with Eric Hinske on a one-year contract to serve as a
pinch-hitter and versatile bench player.
No financial terms were available this morning, but I presume he’ll be making roughly the same salary as your neighborhood barista.
Just before the Hinske signing, O’Brien related word from the Braves themselves that they will not be making any other major moves beyond adding an corner/pinch hitter type of guy. This is that move, it seems, and with that the Braves’ offseason is likely over for all intents and purposes. That means that they are content to go with an outfield of Melky Cabrera, Nate McLouth and Matt Diaz to start the season. Unless, that is, they decide to say screw the super two status and break camp with Jason Heyward as their everyday right fielder and platoon Melky and Diaz in left.
I hope they choose the latter. I fear, however, that they will choose the former and once again lose the division race before it even gets going due the lack of a full complement of major league caliber outfielders.
But let’s think more positively. Hinske finished the 2007 season in the World Series with the Red Sox, the 2008 season in the World Series with the Rays and the 2009 season in the World Series with the Yankess. It is therefore proven beyond a shadow of a doubt and with geometric logic that the Braves will win the 2010 pennant.
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.