Peter Gammons on the radio yesterday when asked about the possibility of the Red Sox trading Jon Lester in the offseason:
“I just sense that Jon is so unhappy here that I’m sure it would be good for him”
Jon Lester on Twitter last night:
While Lester is not dumb and would be well-advised to say such things no matter what his feelings are about Boston, I believe that one of the biggest areas of danger for anyone outside the clubhouse is to do that thing where we try to get inside a player’s head and try to figure out what they’re thinking.
It’s understandable why we do it. It’s human nature to try to figure out what other people are thinking. It’s tempting to try to reconcile and understand the stuff we see in a player’s performance with reference to assumptions about their feelings. I do it sometimes too even though I should know better.
But it’s way too easy to just whiff on that stuff or, more often, reduce a complicated set of circumstances to simple judgments like “player X is unhappy” or whatever. And while that initial judgment like Gammons’ here is fairly benign, it’s the kind of thing that gets picked up by lesser reporters, then the radio people and then common fan as some definite truth: “Lester hates Boston! Screw him!” And that leads to the toxic kind of atmosphere we often see in places like, hey, Boston.
Gammons knows a lot of people in the Red Sox front office and may have greater insight into this than we do. But when it comes to a player’s happiness, I think the odds of anyone not particularly close to him knowing anything useful about it are pretty low, and the risk of misunderstanding a given situation through such assumptions becomes pretty high.
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.