All is not well in White Sox land.
Amid a report last week that the relationship between Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen is “beyond repair,” Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the White Sox GM recently had a “heated exchange” with hitting coach Greg Walker.
Williams told reporters last month that he preferred the swing second baseman Gordon Beckham had when he was first drafted out of the University of Georgia in the first round of the 2008 draft as opposed to the one he has now. Walker took it personally. The two exchanged in the tunnel at U.S. Cellular Field, which led Williams to tell Walker to clean out his locker. The situation was resolved by White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
“I’d rather not comment on it,’’ Walker told the Sun-Times on Friday. “What goes on in our clubhouse stays in our clubhouse. It’s been a very frustrating year for a lot of people.’’
It’s tough to blame the hitting coach for the failures of Beckham, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, but the White Sox enter play Saturday ranked 11th in the league in OPS and 12th in runs scored. None of the White Sox coaches are signed beyond this season and Van Schouwen reports that most of them are confident they will not return.
The White Sox lost 8-1 to the Tigers last night and now 6 1/2 games back in the American League Central.
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.