The Braves are in Queens, New York tonight to open up a three-game series against the Mets. Catcher Evan Gattis isn’t starting, but figures to be used as a pinch-hitter late in the game if the Braves are in need of some offense, as the 26-year-old came up with two big home runs recently: on Saturday, Gattis broke an eighth-inning 0-0 tie with a two-run home run off of Kenley Jansen; on Tuesday, he tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run off of Glen Perkins; and on Wednesday, he boosted the Braves’ lead to 8-0 with a fourth inning grand slam off of Vance Worley.
It wasn’t always easy. As MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports, the last time Gattis was in New York, he was out of baseball and begging for food and money.
When Gattis attempted to get money from an ATM machine to buy a hot dog on the fourth day of that five-day trip, he learned he was penniless. His account showed a negative $17, and he was not scheduled to fly back home out of John F. Kennedy International Airport until the next night.
“I was like, ‘What am I going to do?'” Gattis said. “I just lost it. I was so beaten. I was bawling, crying. I was trying to sell clothes. I was like, ‘You want a bag of clothes so I can get on a train to get to JFK?'”
Things have turned around for Gattis, who spent this afternoon at MLB’s Fan Cave in New York dressed up as a polar bear for some reason.
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.