UPDATE: Alex Speier of WEEI.com says it’s a done deal. Boston has agreed to a three-year contract with Victorino.
Just a few hours after Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com called the Indians “a prime suitor” for Shane Victorino, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox are “frontrunners” for Victorino by making him a three-year, $38 million offer.
I suppose one team being the frontrunner doesn’t preclude another team from being “a” prime suitor, but whatever the case it now seems clear that Victorino is going to get a big multi-year contract at age 31 and coming off a season in which he hit just .255 with a .704 OPS.
Of course, Angel Pagan is 31 years old and just got a four-year, $40 million deal to re-sign with the Giants. Pagan was much better than Victorino in 2012, but combined during the past three seasons Pagan has a .749 OPS and Victorino has a .766 OPS.
One big difference is that the Red Sox presumably would play Victorino is a corner spot, assuming they don’t trade Jacoby Ellsbury, but as early-30s center fielders with .750-OPS bats they’re potentially pretty similar. Unless you’re convinced Victorino showed signs of simply being washed up down the stretch, in which case $38 million is pretty scary.
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.