What should the Yankees do with Jesus Montero?

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Jesus Montero.jpgThe Daily News had an in-depth article about Yankees’ catching prospect Jesus Montero over the weekend. The focus follows the standard Montero storyline: kid can hit a ton, but his defense is lacking. As you might expect, there’s lots of stuff in there about bruised arms from ball-in-the-dirt drills, speculation as to whether he can hack it at first base, etc. Good story.

And while this is probably no surprise to Yankees fans and prospect hawks, I was unaware of how much catching depth the Bombers have in the minors:

The Yankees have so much catching depth in their minor-league system
that, as good as Jesus Montero is, he may not be Jorge Posada’s
eventual replacement. Four of the Yanks’ top eight prospects, according
to Baseball America, are catchers.

Maybe it’s Austin Romine, last year’s Florida State League player of the year who Baseball America tabbed as the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect behind Montero. Or Gary Sanchez (No. 7), who signed for $3 million as an international free agent, or J.R. Murphy (No. 8). Maybe it’s 19-year-old Kyle Higashoika.

“I’ve never seen so many good young catchers together,” says Julio
Mosquera, the Yankees’ minor-league catching coordinator. “I tell these
guys, ‘The sky is the limit for you.’ “

There’s not much more valuable in baseball than a good young catcher, and though the Yankees have been forfeiting draft picks due to free agent signings and picking late for years, that kind of depth could be plenty to keep the talent flowing into the Bronx for years. Indeed, this winter it was widely reported that the Yankees offered Montero for Roy Halladay.

Whether that simply wasn’t rich enough for the Jays or whether they simply didn’t want to trade Doc within the division is unclear, but you can bet that at some point someone is going to trade the Yankees an expensive stud veteran for Montero or one of the other prospects.

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.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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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.