Raul Ibanez will be the subject of tomorrow morning’s headlines, but Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez owned the Yankees on Wednesday night. The rookie right-hander struck out eight and walked none in seven innings at Yankee Stadium. The one run he surrendered was the result of Adam Jones taking two steps in on a Derek Jeter “triple” that ended up over the center fielder’s head.
Gonzalez just doesn’t seem to understand the fact that Yankee Stadium is a difficult place to pitch. He’s made three starts there and gone 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA and a 25/1 K/BB ratio in 20 2/3 innings. It would have been 3-0 if Jim Johnson could have held the lead tonight.
The 28-year-old Gonzalez may well be the biggest surprise of all of the surprises on the Baltimore roster. A one-time Angels farmhand, he was selected by the Red Sox in the Dec. 2008 Rule 5 draft. He hurt his elbow the next spring, spent the entire 2009 season on the DL and then showed little in the Boston farm system the next two years. In 2011, he went 0-7 with a 5.40 ERA at three levels of the minors. The Orioles signed him last winter as a minor league free agent, and now he’s dominating the Yankees in the postseason. It’s a funny game, that’s for sure.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.