There was a little bit of history this afternoon, as MLB’s new expanded instant replay made its debut in a game between the Blue Jays and Twins.
We saw it in the bottom of the sixth inning after Twins outfielder Chris Rahl was called safe at first base when a throw from Blue Jays shortstop Munenori Kawasaki pulled Jared Goedert off the bag. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons challenged the call, which was eventually upheld. The whole process took an estimated two minutes and 34 seconds.
Check out the video below:
It should be said that this isn’t exactly how things will go during the season. In the Twins-Blue Jays game, there was a video truck outside the stadium with an umpire on duty to review calls. During the season, there will be a challenge umpire at the MLBAM office in New York.
Expanded instant replay was used again later in the very same game, but this time it was initiated by the umpires, which is allowed after the seventh inning under the new system. The original call, that Twins pinch-hitter Doug Bernier beat out a grounder for an infield hit, was also upheld. We also saw replay used this afternoon in a Cactus League game between the Angels and Diamondbacks. Angels manager Mike Scioscia challenged a call after Luis Jimenez was called out at second base after a botched hit-and-run play. However, the umpire’s original call was also confirmed. Paul Hagan of MLB.com reports that the wait was around two minutes and 31 seconds.
So far, so good.
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.