Seattle Mariners v Cleveland Indians

Report: Mariners prospect Michael Pineda favored for rotation spot

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Mariners prospect right-hander Michael Pineda has garnered all sorts of attention this spring by flashing mid-to-high 90s heat on the radar gun.

And while spring training performances aren’t the be-all end-all, he has also pitched pretty well, posting a 2.57 ERA and 5/3 K/BB ratio over his first seven Cactus League innings. Still, the assumption has been that the 22-year-old will remain in the minor leagues until June in an effort to delay his service time.

Not so, at least according to what Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has heard from multiple sources. In fact, Baker hears that the final spot in the starting rotation is “Pineda’s to lose.”

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik won’t confirm Baker’s report, but said that Pineda’s service time won’t have an impact on his decision.

“I don’t think we’re going to worry about service time,” Zduriencik told me. “No one’s going to hold them back. If they’re ready to play, we’re going to let them play.”

In other words, if he continues to pitch well, he’s in.

Standing at 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, Pineda has a 2.49 ERA over parts of five seasons in the minors. After being limited to 47 1/3 innings in 2009 due to elbow soreness, he posted a 3.36 ERA over 25 starts between Double-A West Tennessee and Triple-A Tacoma last season, averaging 9.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.

Nate Robertson needs elbow surgery and Zduriencik essentially dismissed David Pauley as an option during today’s conversation with Baker, so that leaves Luke French as the only reasonable alternative to Pineda.

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.