Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino was on MLB Network Radio’s “Inside Pitch” on Sirius XM yesterday and Alex Speier of WEEI.com was nice enough to transcribe it for everyone.
Lucchino spent a good chunk of the interview downplaying the absurd notion that the Red Sox are suddenly cheap, but he also confirmed that the club has offered spring training invites to both Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield. They’ve yet to hear a decision from either player.
“We’re hopeful that those guys will make decisions before spring training starts as to whether they would like to come back. They have each been invited to come to camp. But Tim is approaching his 46th year I think. Jason Varitek is approaching his 40th year. Those things are hard decisions. They have both been enormously valuable to the club,” said Lucchino. “Whenever they choose to retire — and retirement is inevitable at some point, obviously, whether it’s this year or its next year — we will always have a place of respect and admiration in the Red Sox organization. But the decisions are now kind of in their hands as to what they’d like to do in this particular season.”
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe on Wednesday that he hopes to have a definitive resolution with Varitek and Wakefield by next week. Neither player is a fit on the current projected roster, so odds are we’ll have some retirement pressers on the agenda real soon.
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.