Mariano Rivera moved past Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves list this afternoon, throwing a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the Twins to close out a 6-4 victory and record his 602nd career save.
In general saves are an overrated and oftentimes silly stat and Rivera certainly didn’t need the record in order for people to realize what an amazing pitcher he’s been, but there’s definitely a nice symmetry to the best closer in baseball history being the all-time saves leader.
Here’s what the leaderboard now looks like:
Mariano Rivera 602
Trevor Hoffman 601
Lee Smith 478
John Franco 424
Billy Wagner 422
And no one else has 400.
Hoffman held the record for just one season, but Rivera will be atop the list for a long time. Francisco Cordero is second among all active pitchers with 323 saves and the highest total by someone under 30 years old is Francisco Rodriguez with 291.
Rivera will hold the record when he goes into Cooperstown and the way he’s pitching that might not be for a while. Today’s save was his 43rd of the season and Rivera has thrown 59 innings with a 1.98 ERA and 57/7 K/BB ratio. He’s as good as ever at age 41 and 700 saves seems possible, although 1,209 innings with a 2.21 ERA in the regular season and 140 innings with a 0.71 ERA in the postseason tells the story of his greatness even better than his save total.
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.