Over the weekend Ozzie Guillen explained that he was going to stick with Adam Dunn as the White Sox’s third-place hitter because “this guy is very important in our lineup” and “the only way he’s going to hit is to play him.”
At that point Dunn had batted third in 20 straight games, but the day after uttering those words Guillen moved him to the fifth spot and now less than a week later the manager has decided to drop Dunn all the way down to the seventh spot.
Here’s what Guillen told Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago:
I want to make sure he relaxes a little bit. It’s not to punish him. Right now he’s a little frustrated. I think we kind of worry about him. You can see him kind of worry about it. After his at-bat he’s very down. But I have to continue to play him.
I hope batting him seventh he will get a break and relax a little bit. Hopefully that works. When he starts swinging the bat better we will move him back to where he’s supposed to be.
Dunn, who signed a four-year, $56 million deal with the White Sox as a free agent after posting an OPS above .850 in seven straight seasons, has gone 0-for-33 versus left-handed pitching and is currently in a 4-for-40 slump overall.
He also leads the league in strikeouts, but that’s nothing new and wouldn’t be an issue if Dunn were producing like he usually does. Instead he’s hitting .186 with five homers and a .660 OPS that’s 235 points below his career norm.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.
The Red Sox are expecting to go to an arbitration hearing with left-handed reliever Fernando Abad, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski said there was a “decent chance” a hearing would be necessary after countering Abad’s $2.7 million request with $2 million.
Abad, 31, pitched just 12 2/3 innings for Boston after the club acquired him from Minnesota at the trade deadline last season. The lefty earned a cumulative 3.66 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.9 SO/9 for the two teams in 2016. He received $1.25 million in 2016 and will remain under club control (through arbitration) in 2017. A $2.7 million salary would be a hefty increase for the veteran reliever, who has seen a significant decline since he put up a 1.57 ERA for the Athletics in 2014 and who has not amassed more than 0.6 fWAR in any single season to date.
While the Red Sox aren’t close to settling with Abad, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports that they may be closing in on a settlement with left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz filed at $5.7 million, while the Sox felt more comfortable at $3.6 million. The two are expected to meet somewhere in the middle to avoid an arbitration hearing later this winter.