The Oakland A’s pulled off one of the shockers of the offseason when they signed free agent pitcher Ben Sheets to a one-year, $10 million deal. While many thought the A’s overpaid for the talented (yet oft-injured) pitcher who missed all of 2009, there were also some good feelings that a small-market club could outbid its richer competitors for a notable talent.
After today, those good feelings flew right out the window, as Sheets allowed 10 runs without getting an out in a 13-5 loss to the Reds. Sheets allowed eight hits and a walk, and also committed an error. “It was a bad one,” Sheets understated.
The “good” news is Sheets said he felt good, and that an earlier spring start in which he allowed six runs against the White Sox was, in his mind, actually worse.
A’s manager Bob Geren maintained a positive attitude after the game. And why wouldn’t he? After all, it’s not his $10 million.
“He definitely threw the ball better this time,” Geren said. “The results weren’t there. It’s the best he’s thrown since he’s been here. I’ll stay encouraged that way. This guy’s an All-Star. He didn’t like his performance. I’m not worried about his ego.”
Geren also said that he thinks Britney Spears’ music is getting better with every album, and that he’s encouraged by the signs he sees in California’s economy.
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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.
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.