As recently as last week Adrian Gonzalez’s lack of homers was making headlines, with Terry Francona speculating that neck problems were to blame for the power slump, Gonzalez later downplaying that notion, and some people even suggesting that participating in the Home Run Derby was the culprit.
Suddenly it’s no longer even an issue.
Gonzalez hit just one homer in the span of 179 plate appearances from July 8 to August 22, including 22 straight games without a long ball, but he went deep twice last night against the Rangers and has now homered five times in the past three games.
Before this week’s power outburst Gonzalez had a total of five homers in his last 60 games, although he also hit .344 with an .898 OPS during that time to make the lack of pop much less of a concern.
Overall this season Gonzalez has hit .348 with 23 homers and a .975 OPS in 128 games, which is good for an adjusted OPS+ of 162 (on a scale where 50 is Jeff Mathis, 100 is average, and 200 is Babe Ruth). Gonzalez’s adjusted OPS+ in his final two seasons with the Padres was 157. Moving from Petco Park to Fenway Park has boosted Gonzalez’s raw numbers and hitting in the middle of the Red Sox’s lineup has inflated his RBI total, but the in-context production remains nearly the same. New ballpark, new lineup, same great hitter.
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.