That Mike Napoli ended up accepting a one-year, $5 million guarantee from the Red Sox after originally agreeing to a three-year, $39 million contract suggested that something pretty bad was going on with his hip. The details came out today, courtesy of Napoli’s agent: Napoli was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both of his hips.
Avascular necrosis is pretty much what it sounds like: the death of bone due to a lack of blood supply. According to Wikipedia, it’s most common in the hip, though it can also take place at the shoulder, knee and other joints.
The 31-year-old Napoli has experienced no symptoms as a result of the condition. According to his agent, it was caught at the very early stages, having been revealed in the Red Sox’s original physical. While people with avascular necrosis of the hip often end up needing a total hip replacement, that appears to be many years off in this case, if it ever proves necessary at all.
Bo Jackson’s is the most famous case of avascular necrosis, with his developing after he injured his hip in an NFL game. He later returned to baseball and the major leagues, but he was never the same kind of athlete.
Brett Favre was also diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip in 1992. He never required surgery and did OK for himself playing football for a couple of decades.
The Red Sox are planning on Napoli being their everyday first baseman this season after finalizing the contract. Playing the position should definitely be easier on his body than catching. Napoli said he’s on medication to help stave off any symptoms and that he’s really excited for the season to start up.
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.