Rough day for three potential free agents

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Along with the big Johan Santana and Billy Wagner news today, there were three lesser items that figure to negatively impact a few of this winter’s potential free agents.
Wanting to make room for Chris Davis, the Rangers placed Andruw Jones on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.
Jones’ OPS stood at 903 on July 29, but he’s gone 8-for-53 with no homers since, leaving him with a .217/.329/.482 line for the season. Just as much of a concern for his value going forward is that leg injuries have limited his outfield time, making him primarily a DH even after injuries to Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz opened up spots. Jones does have his 17 homers in 253 at-bats this season, so if he were still an adequate center fielder, he’d be well worth considering as a regular next year. However, as is, that’s an awfully difficult thing to judge. It would help if he got himself into better shape and then logged some innings in winter ball.
In this case, Jones’ loss is another free agent’s gain. Hank Blalock could have lost a lot more playing time to Davis, but he’ll likely stay in the lineup against right-handers now.
The Mets revealed that J.J. Putz suffered a setback with his forearm and probably wouldn’t pitch again this season.
If that’s the case, Putz could well end his Mets career with a 5.22 ERA and a 19/19 K/BB ratio in 29 1/3 innings, all accumulated during the first two months of this season. GM Omar Minaya expected him to function as an elite setup man in front of Francisco Rodriguez, but it seems clear now that the one-time dominant closer will never be so effective again.
The Mets have the option of keeping Putz at $8.5 million or buying him out for $1 million next year. It’d be a lot to pay for a setup man anyway, and there’s just no way that Putz is worth it now. Exercising the option and trading him might have worked if Putz came back and impressed in September, but that’s also out. Odds are that he’ll become a free agent, and he might latch on with a low payroll club willing to give him an opportunity to close (Florida? Baltimore?).
Nick Johnson has been slower than expected to recover from a strained hamstring and could be placed on the DL prior to tonight’s game.
Incredibly, Johnson went 4 1/2 months without suffering an injury of any significance. However, the slow healing first baseman is down now after appearing in just 13 games following a trade from the Nationals to the Marlins. Johnson, who is batting .296/.419/.408, had a ton to gain as a free agent by playing in 150 games this season. It likely would have put him in line for another three-year deal. Something like $15 million for two years might be more likely now.

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.