Dan Wheeler

Red Sox agree to terms with reliever Dan Wheeler

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From Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston comes word that the Red Sox have agreed to terms on a contract with right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler.

Sean McAdam of CSN New England heard Thursday that the Sox would not give the free agent righty anything greater than a one-year contract.  It remains to be seen if they stuck to that.

Wheeler, 33, turned in a rock-solid 3.35 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 48.1 innings for the Rays in 2010, holding opposing hitters to a .207 batting average and .273 on-base percentage.  He struck out 46 batters and walked only 16, showing good life on an arsenal of five pitches.

The 10-year MLB veteran should do well in a middle relief role next year in Boston.

The Red Sox also added free agent Bobby Jenks earlier this week to what should be a strong 2011 bullpen.

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UPDATE: Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that Wheeler’s contract includes a vesting option for 2012 that can be triggered if the right-hander makes 65 appearances next season.

In a world where Scott Downs can command a three-year, $15 million contract from the Angels and Joaquin Benoit can score a three-year, $16.5 million deal from the Tigers, the Red Sox probably had to add that option year in order to secure a signature.

UPDATE: Steve Phillips of AOL Fanhouse has the financial terms.  Both the one-year agreement and vesting option are worth $3 million.  That option can be pushed to $3.25 million if Wheeler appears in 75-plus games.

Danny Espinosa reportedly skipped Nationals Winterfest because of Adam Eaton

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Danny Espinosa #8 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after teammate Chris Heisey #14 (not pictured) hits a two run home run in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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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.

Nick Cafardo: Red Sox should deal Pomeranz, not Buchholz

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on September 18, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 5-4. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
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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.