UPDATE: Turns out the Blue Jays didn’t sign Cesar Izturis after all. Mike Cormack of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Blue Jays actually signed Julio Izturis, who is Cesar’s 23-year-old brother. He played with the Giants’ low Class A affiliate this past season.
Wednesday, 7:13 PM: After stops in Los Angeles, Chicago, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Baltimore, Milwaukee and Washington, Cesar Izturis is returning to the organization that originally signed him as a 16-year-old in 1996. He inked a minor league deal with the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Izturis will battle to make the team as a utility infielder. He hit .241/.254/.343 in 166 at-bats with the Brewers and Nationals last season (though just four of them were with Washington).
If Cesar can make the team, he’d play with his half-brother, Maicer, for the first time in the majors. Maicer Izturis was signed to a three-year deal earlier this month.
In Cesar Izturis, Felipe Lopez and Orlando Hudson, the Jays had three top middle infield prospects come up at roughly the same time 11 years ago. The team opted to trade Izturis to the Dodgers for top pitching prospect Luke Prokopec after the 2001 season and go forward with Lopez at short and Hudson at second. Alas, Prokopec got hurt and was a bust. Izturis never did develop into much of a hitter, but he would have given the Jays some stability at short had they kept him. Lopez lasted just one year as the starter before getting traded, and the position has been a revolving door ever since, though Jose Reyes finally figures to change that.
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.