Jerome Williams, who was last seen going 0-5 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts with the Nationals in 2007, is back in the majors after being promoted by the Angels on Wednesday.
Williams, a native of Hawaii, debuted with the Giants in 2003, finishing 7-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 21 starts as a rookie. Along with Jesse Foppert and Kurt Ainsworth, he was part of a trio of Giants right-handers all ranked among the game’s top pitching prospects in the early part of the decade.
Unfortunately, none of those three went on to have substantial careers, while Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan, who were dealt to the Twins for A.J. Pierzynski, turned into big-time successes.
Unlike Foppert and Ainsworth, Williams didn’t deal with any major arm problems. He just lost his best stuff early on, and while he possesses a perfectly respectable career record of 23-29 with a 4.25 ERA (from back when a 4.25 ERA was actually above average), he wasn’t viewed as having any upside because of his lack of a consistent low-90s fastball or a strikeout breaking ball. It also certainly didn’t help matters that he wasn’t too concerned about conditioning; he probably weighed over 250 pounds by the time he was let go by the Nats in 2007.
Williams is getting the call now after going 7-2 with a 3.91 ERA and a 60/15 K/BB ratio in 73 2/3 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake. That he gave up 10 homers in 10 starts and one relief appearance doesn’t bode well, but that is a very tough environment for pitchers. At best, maybe he’ll hold his own and prove to be a decent middle reliever for the Angels. It doesn’t seem likely that he could succeed as a starter in the AL.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.