Here’s a list of the closers still available in free agency:
And following Toronto’s acquisition of Sergio Santos, here’s a list of all of the teams truly interested in spending significant dollars on a closer:
The Boston Red Sox
Really, that’s it. The Angels have the money to spend on a top reliever, but they already have a very promising ninth-inning guy in Jordan Walden. The Reds, Mets, Orioles and Padres are more interested in bargain hunting then spending big money on a reliever.
We know the Red Sox are interested in Oakland’s Andrew Bailey and that they’ve at least discussed Huston Street with the Rockies, but why go that route when a couple of these relievers are going to hit the bargain bin. The Red Sox might well end up getting Madson for Heath Bell money (three years, $27 million) or Rodriguez for $16 million over two years. Sure, they’d take Bailey over K-Rod all things being equal, but at the price of a couple of top prospects, things are far from equal.
My guess is that the Angels will be involved with Madson, so maybe he’ll still get his four-year deal. But that’s far from a certainty. The Reds could scrape up the money for K-Rod or Cordero, but they’re at least as likely to trade for a closer candidate. Francisco might want to seriously think about accepting that arbitration offer from the Jays, even though he’d be a setup man in Toronto. It’s doubtful he’ll do better 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.