Nature abhors a vacuum and apparently baseball writers abhor a lack of news:
Mauer still has more leverage than Pat Williams on a teeter-totter,
but as negotiations have lagged, Mauer’s hesitancy to accept a
record-setting contract offer from his hometown team has made his
signing less than a sure thing and raised this previously unthinkable
“Won’t the Twins have to trade him if he refuses their best offer?” . . .
. . . a combination of modern baseball logic and Twins history
suggests that if the Twins’ decision-makers can’t sign Mauer, they will
be obligated to trade him . . . A trade could yield a closer to replace Joe Nathan and would protect
the franchise in the future from having one player on their roster
consuming 20 to 25 percent of their payroll, a formula that rarely
works in baseball.
Joe Mauer for a closer? Well, you drive a hard bargain, Twins, but I suppose Theo Epstein may bite the bullet and trade, say, Jonathan Papelbon for him. OK, Papelbon and a second or third tier minor league catcher to fill your organizational needs, but that’s his final offer.
Back here in the real world, the only thing trading Joe Mauer will “protect” the Twins from is from having to make ushers wipe down the upper deck seats before home games, what with the fact that no fans will ever show up to sit there.
The Twins are almost certainly going to sign Joe Mauer. If they don’t, they’d be better off simply letting him walk while engaging in kabuki theater to make everyone think that he was the bad guy than shipping him out for what, at this point, wouldn’t be quite the haul everyone thinks it might be.
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.