On a slow news day, I hit “refresh” on my gmail inbox every ten seconds, waiting for the near-daily MLB drug suspension press release to come in. And today we have a troika:
Free agent Minor League right-handed pitcher Frank Diaz has been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol. The suspension of Diaz will be effective immediately upon his signing with another Major League organization.
Cincinnati Reds Minor League third baseman Ernest Vasquez and right-handed pitcher James Walczak have each been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for an Amphetamine. The suspensions of Vasquez and Walczak, who are currently on the roster of the Single-A Dayton Dragons of the Midwest League, will be effective at the start of next season.
Frank Diaz — assuming it’s the same Frank Diaz — has been in the Mexican League since 2009, so I’m not sure when he’s been testing. But he was once an Expos minor leaguer, and that’s retro-cool!
I had trouble tracking down Ernest Vazquez. Baseball-Reference.com has a Niko Vasquez with an a/k/a of Ernest in the Reds organization. Let’s assume that’s him, even though he didn’t play for Dayton this season. If not, apologies to Niko.
James Walczak — listed as Jamie — is a 15th rounder whose pitching lines suggest that the Painesville, Ohio product may not see much beyond the bright lights of Dayton, so I suppose his using was understandable.
Anyway, who’s calculating their WAR to determine how many wins to deduct from the Dayton Dragons, Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz and whatever the hell team Vazquez played for this year?
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.