Tony La Russa remains undecided about returning as Cardinals manager next season, but hinted yesterday that he’s leaning toward coming back and added that “it won’t be long” before he makes a decision:
I think I know where things lead but I want to be sure. I want to be honest. I want it to be genuine. … You’re not a player. This isn’t free agency where you can wait until the end of the World Series to decide.
You’re a member of your organization’s staff. You’re a complementary part of the organization. I’m encouraged and feel good about the conversations I’ve had with some of the players. All that’s left is to check the fire in your gut. That shouldn’t take long.
If the 65-year-old manager returns he’ll likely bring longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan back with him, so general manager John Mozeliak is being patient:
I understand he wanted some time to take a step back. He has a process he’s going through. We understand that. We speak on a fairly regular basis, and it’s about the future. That leads me to think optimistically about where things are headed. I’m not going to put a line in the sand about this. But we did talk about this not getting too far away. Sooner is better than later. Tony knows that as well as anyone.
La Russa and the Cardinals seem sort of blindsided by their first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, but losing three straight games to another good team is hardly the end of the world and he’s guided St. Louis to the postseason in seven of the past 10 years. He’ll be back and the Cardinals will be strong contenders again in 2010, although Mozeliak will have a very busy offseason in the meantime.
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.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.