The Phillies just made it official, sending outfielder Domonic Brown and right-hander Andrew Carpenter to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. These moves cleared the way for the newly-acquired Hunter Pence to be added to the active roster and for third baseman Placido Polanco to return from the disabled list.
We already talked about the Brown demotion this morning, but the plan is for him to play everyday in the minor leagues, presumably until rosters expand in September. The 23-year-old has looked a little shaky defensively, but has held his own offensively with a .728 OPS and 34/25 K/BB ratio over 209 plate appearances this season.
Polanco hasn’t played since July 4 due to lower back inflammation. The 35-year-old was hitless over six at-bats in two rehab games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but the Phillies were obviously more focused on the condition of his back than the results. They’re hopeful some rest and a recent epidural injection will make a difference, as he is batting just .216/.276/.261 with two homers and a .537 OPS since the start of May.
UPDATE: Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that the plan is for Brown to play left field for the foreseeable future, as there will be an opening there when Raul Ibanez becomes a free agent following the season. He is starting in left field (hat-tip to the comments section) for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this evening.
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.