Not necessarily strong rumors. Not from any baseball insider types who usually chatter about goings on in MLB. But this story from NBC Chicago about rumors of the Cubs moving to the south side to play in U.S. Cellular Field while Wrigley Field undergoes a renovation is interesting enough.
To be sure, the story leads with the Cubs’ denial of such a thing, with a spokesman for the Ricketts family saying “I have never heard of a done deal of moving home games to the ‘Cell.'” But of course, that insertion of “a done deal” is an equivocation, no? If there were a done deal lots of people would know about it. What we want to know is if it’s actually being discussed as a realistic option.
Because some folks are discussing it:
Workers at U.S. Cellular tell a different story. They say they are being warned of a much busier 2013 season (as in, prepare for double the games). Bridgeport bar owners tell a similar story.
Could be empty chatter. As Neil deMause of “Field of Schemes” notes, it could be a trial balloon to gauge public sentiment. And of course, the Cubs don’t even have renovation money secured yet, so it may all be moot for now.
But it would be interesting seeing the Cubs play in U.S. Cellular Field. If, for no other reason, we’d get to see if anyone would truly care about them without Wrigley Field as part of the equation.
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.