Brad Lidge was released by the Nationals earlier this week after being designated for assignment and clearing waivers. The move came just 10 days after he returned from sports hernia surgery. While he’s now free to sign anywhere, he appears to be having a tough time letting go of the way the Nationals handled things.
“I am healthy,” Lidge told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick via email, “but based on the path I would have to take to get back to the bigs this year I am not sure I will be jumping back in right now. No official decision one way or another, but mostly I am not happy that I rushed back from surgery before I was ready only to be designated for assignment a couple of days later.”
You have to respect Lidge’s work ethic, but the Nationals simply determined that he wasn’t worth the roster spot anymore. Not an easy decision to make when somebody is making $1 million. The 35-year-old right-hander had an obscene 9.64 ERA and 11 walks over just 9 1/3 innings, so they had a legitimate case to give him the boot. Still, it’s a pretty tough pill to swallow for someone who has enjoyed a lot of success in the big leagues.
There’s no shortage of teams looking for bullpen help and Lidge has instructed his agents to take calls from potential suitors. Emotions are running pretty high at the moment, but we probably haven’t seen the last of him in the big leagues.
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.