UPDATE: So much for that. Roger Clemens told Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston tonight that he will not pitch for the Astros this season.
While Astros owner Jim Crane didn’t rule out the possibility of Clemens making a start this month against a non-contending team, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner said he only would have returned if it meant he could play the role of spoiler.
“Why would I want to waste my time running around and getting in shape. I get over to Minute Maid (Park), I’ll crank it up and get it over 90 for a contender. We’ll knock them right out of the playoffs. That would be the fun. Pitching against somebody that’s not in contention wouldn’t be any fun for me.
“It’s not going to happen.”
Berman reports that Clemens is looking forward to helping the Astros in a coaching capacity during spring training next year.
7:22 PM: Roger Clemens said after Friday’s start with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters that he didn’t think he was MLB-ready and was aiming more for spring training next year, but he also said he would “listen” if Astros owner Jim Crane called. It appears Crane hasn’t given up on the possibility yet.
According to David Barron of the Houston Chronicle, Crane said today that he hasn’t ruled out Clemens making a start with the Astros this season. However, he also said Clemens wouldn’t pitch in a game against a playoff contender. That means that if it’s going to happen this year, it would have to happen very soon. The Astros host the Cubs and the Phillies this week while their other two remaining series at home are against the Pirates and Cardinals.
For what it’s worth, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the team has their six-man rotation planned out for the rest of the season and he’s “not expecting any changes.” But that could change, especially if they want to boost those television ratings.
Clemens, 50, has tossed seven scoreless innings over his first two starts with the Skeeters. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007 with the Yankees.
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.