Kerry Wood told NBC-5 in Chicago that he expects to sign by Friday, with Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reporting that the Phillies, Tigers, Angels, and Reds are among the teams competing with the Cubs for the 34-year-old reliever.
Wood took significantly less money to sign with the Cubs last offseason and said just a couple months ago that he might opt for retirement rather than pitch for another team, but apparently something changed along with the new front office regime taking over and now he’s looking to get fair market value.
Last winter Wood accepted a one-year, $1.5 million deal from the Cubs when he was being offered multi-year deals for higher annual salaries elsewhere, including from the crosstown White Sox. This time around Salisbury reports that Wood is looking for a one-year deal worth around $4 million, which is reasonable money and may still be too much for the Phillies unless general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. can get ownership to sign off on a payroll bump to add the setup man.
Wood pitched very well for the Cubs last season, throwing 51 innings with a 3.35 ERA and 57/21 K/BB ratio, so he’s certainly right to think he’s worth similar money to other veteran setup men who got one-year deals this offseason like Octavio Dotel ($3.5 million), Jon Rauch ($3.5 million), and LaTroy Hawkins ($3 million).
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.