I’ve been critical of the Prince Fielder contract. So have the majority of my counterparts around the baseball blogosphere. It’s a lot of money for a guy who doesn’t fit ideally into that roster and it may cause some issues later, yadda, yadda yadda, etc.
But Tigers fans don’t really care. At least the ones who think like Kurt Mensching of Bless You Boys:
I’ll be honest, I think it’s all a bit of lunacy and breathless commentary from an industry that peddles in breathless commentary … Sure the deal is large, but that’s because it’s a nine-year deal and Fielder was the second-best player this offseason. Am I supposed to worry about nine years from now? Really? As economists say, in the long run we’re all dead. I’m going to bet that nine years from now, Fielder is no longer among the highest-paid players. Nine years ago, $13 million a year was a whole lot of money. Now $13 million wouldn’t even crack the top 50 list.
Mensching goes on to note that the Tigers have shown flexibility in the past, the willingness to make trades and the ability to buck the expectations of the smart set. One example: how the team was supposed to crater financially when the economic crisis hit a few years ago, yet have witnessed damn fine attendance and the ability to maintain high payrolls.
I’m not sure I’d be so rosy about it were I a Tigers fan, mostly because a lot of this hinges on unknowns like player health, what happens with guys like Justin Verlander, etc. But Mensching is probably right that a lot of us are worrying a bit too much now about things that might not happen later.
There are a lot of bad long-term deals out there (and Mensching fully admits that the Fielder deal may look pretty bad towards the end). But beyond the Cubs’ many awful deals, it’s not like all of them totally kneecap teams for a long period of time. Such deals can be total drags, but they’re not all complete and utter millstones.
And as Mensching also notes: in the long run, we’re all dead. So that’s cheery too.
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.