That’s right. During the team’s winter caravan event on Saturday, manager Dusty Baker mentioned that the team has considered using prospect Yonder Alonso behind the plate. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com has the quote from the Reds’ skipper:
“That’s always a possibility,” Baker said. “We’ve entertained a few things, even the possibility of putting Alonso behind the plate. He’s built more like a catcher than he is anything. Imagine a left-handed, power-hitting catcher. A lot of that depends on our Minor League development people that spend time with the kids and the time training them.”
Save for a few designated hitter assignments here and there, the former 2008 first-round pick has exclusively played at first base in the minor leagues, so this is probably wishful thinking more than anything else. I’ve looked for any evidence of him playing another position during his time at the University of Miami, but have come up empty-handed.
Alonso, who turns 23 in April, batted .292/.374/.464 with nine home runs and 52 RBI during his first full year of pro ball last season, reaching as high as Double-A Carolina. He was recently ranked as the club’s No. 2 prospect by Baseball America and is expected to rise rather quickly, so something will have to give with Joey Votto as the big club’s current first baseman. Many have speculated that Votto will eventually be ticketed for left field.
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.