Rafael Soriano is among the various players “snubbed” from the All-Star game, which apparently upset the Nationals closer and quite a few of his teammates, but if MLB decides to select him as a last-minute injury replacement Soriano plans to turn them down.
James Wagner of the Washington Post describes Soriano as being “confused” by the snub and here’s how the closer described his feelings:
In this job, nothing is given. What I’ve got, I’ve earned. No one has given it to me. Things are not given. The all-star game isn’t given to anyone. There are some pitchers who can’t pitch because they have to pitch on Sunday. I’m not going anymore. If the manager comes and tells me tomorrow, I’ll say I’m not going because I don’t want to be given anything. Things are not given, they’re earned. And if it’s by numbers, look up at the numbers of all the closers. Where am I? I’ll go home and spend three, four days there and I’ll forget about this.
Odds are pretty decent that Soriano would have been chosen as a replacement, since injuries and pitching schedules knock numerous players out of the mix every year in the days leading up to the game. Seemingly half of the “snubs” end up getting in anyway.
Soriano is certainly deserving of an All-Star spot with a 1.00 ERA and 33/11 K/BB ratio in 36 innings to go with a decade-long track record of excellence, but tons of relievers have great first halves every year and more so than any other position/role the competition is fierce. And spending a few days at home in the Dominican Republic with his family isn’t the worst thing ever.
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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.