Despite Scott Boras’ best efforts, the Tigers still aren’t taking the bait on free agent closer Rafael Soriano. According to Chris Iott of MLive.com, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said this week that he’s pretty satisfied with the guys in his bullpen and isn’t going to add anyone unless it’s the right fit.
“It would have to be the right guy, the right situation, all those types of things,” Dombrowski said. “We’re not just out to sign somebody to fill a hole. We’ve got enough arms.”
As of now, the Tigers will likely carry seven relief pitchers on their Opening Day roster, including five right-handers and two left-handers. Phil Coke is a lock from the left side while the Tigers plan to have a competition for the other spot. Meanwhile, Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel are locks from the right side while Dombrowski believes Al Alburquerque and Bryan Villarreal deserve to be on the roster. This leaves one final spot, and by all accounts, prospect right-hander Bruce Rondon will get a chance at the closer role.
I don’t doubt that Rondon could eventually close for the Tigers, as he throws hard and put up some impressive strikeout totals this past season, but it would be a pretty big gamble for a team with designs on the World Series to trust someone who has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues. This could drag on for a while, but with no other obvious fit for Soriano, I suspect they’ll eventually be a match.
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.