With Chris Capuano off the board, Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Twins have turned their attention to two alternatives: Jeff Francis and Edwin Jackson.
While one is a rather predictable target, the other is a bit of a surprise.
Francis, who turns 31 in January, posted a 4.82 ERA and 91/39 K/BB ratio over 183 innings with the Royals this season. The southpaw averaged a career-low 4.5 K/9 while the velocity on his fastball (84.7) was down a couple ticks from his career average. The good news is that his shoulder wasn’t an issue and he managed to make 30 starts for the first time since 2007. However, he may have to settle for a one-year deal this winter.
The Twins have only had initial talks with the agent for Francis, but they should have further discussions at the Winter Meetings next week. The Rockies have also expressed interest in bringing him back, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
As for Jackson, Morosi acknowledges that he appears to be more of a longshot. The 28-year-old right-hander is one of the top options in a market lacking in quality starting pitchers, so with any luck, he should be able to find a three-year deal. Throw in the fact that Jackson is represented by Scott Boras and the Twins have already said that they plan to cut payroll relative to 2011, and it’s likely he ends up elsewhere.
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.