When SI.com’s Jon Heyman first reported that the trade designed to send Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox was killed by a contract dispute, my reaction was: “Wow, that’s crazy.”
But it’s not crazy. Not at all.
In fact, both sides were right to balk.
Adrian Gonzalez hit .298/.393/.511 this past season with 31 home runs and 101 RBI while playing solid defense at the first base position. He’s 28 years old, talented as any first baseman in the league not named Pujols and looking to cash in on his impending free agency.
So when the Red Sox made a mandate Saturday that Gonzalez sign a long-term contract extension before finalizing the blockbuster five-player trade, he asked for a deal similar to the eight-year, $180 million behemoth that Mark Teixeira signed in December of 2008 with the Yankees.
Remember, the Red Sox helped drive up that Teixeira contract. But they’re not wrong for choosing to not pay it now.
Gonzalez will be a free agent next winter and the Yankees already have a body at first base. The Red Sox can wait another year, enter the highest bid against little competition, and get their man without offering up four quality prospects.
This baby was doomed from the start.
Intelligent baseball clubs usually work cautiously and pay attention to all the details. The Sox employ some of the top minds in the game and were right to stay level-headed in negotiations. They’ll bring Gonzalez aboard next year and keep their farm system from being depleted.
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.