Is Atlanta interested in Matt Holliday?

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Dave O’Brien mentions — and then almost immediately scotches — rumors of a Yunel Escobar for Matt Holliday trade:

While the Braves have made it known they are taking calls from teams
interested in potential Yunel Escobar trades, I’m told that three’s
nothing to the report out of Oakland of discussions between the teams
about an Escobar-and-prospects trade for Oakland’s Matt Holliday and
Orlando Cabrera.

Not saying they haven’t talked to Oakland at some point about
Holliday. Just saying the Braves haven’t talked to them about trading
Escobar and prospects for Holliday and Cabrera, two pending free
agents.

As O’Brien goes on to note, such a trade would be ree-dic-ulously awful
for Atlanta, as Escobar is both (a) useful; and (b) not even
arb-eligible until after 2010, and given that both Holliday and Cabrera
are free agents after the season. Oh, and Cabrera stinks and both he
and Holliday are expensive. If anything, such a deal would need
prospects coming back Atlanta’s way to make up for the virtual
certainty that both of those guys would bolt after the season is over.

Still, I’ve been reading O’Brien for many years, and one thing is
clear: he has some good sources in the Braves’ front office. So while
this particular trade makes little sense for Atlanta, I have to believe
him when he says that there are talks between Oakland and Atlanta
involving Escobar and Holliday. Stay tuned.

Twins’ minor league pitcher Landa dies in Venezuela

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 05:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins makes a throw to first base during the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.

The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.

Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.

Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.

Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.