Over the weekend an MRI exam revealed no structural damage in Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder, but the Nationals third baseman has had shoulder problems for two years now and during a radio interview last night manager Matt Williams revealed for the first that he’s “got an arthritic shoulder.”
Answering questions from Nationals fans on 106.7-FM, Williams said:
But we have to look at Ryan, though, and say “Would I like Ryan to play third?” Yea, I would. For a long time? Yes. But the fact of the matter is, Ryan’s got an arthritic shoulder. It gives him problems, and sometimes it’s tough on him. So we’ve started to do some things at first base, with him, where we can give him a break sometimes. …
We have to curtail that just a touch to make sure that he feels good. What does that involve? Maybe it doesn’t involve as many throws. Maybe it’s cutting down on the amount of grounders he takes in pregame. I know that he looks to go down, especially when it’s cold, in the cage and throw. Maybe it’s an adjustment to that, too.
Williams made it clear that he wants Zimmerman to remain at third base for “a long time” but obviously it’s not a good sign that the Nationals are needing to do things like cut down on his pregame throwing in order to keep his shoulder issues from being a bigger factor.
Current first baseman Adam LaRoche is a free agent after this season and Zimmerman sliding across the diamond full time in 2015 seems like a very real possibility at this point. He’s in the first season of a six-year, $100 million extension.
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.