Mike Cameron has been activated, Darnell McDonald has been designated for assignment and Terry Francona has decided that Jacoby Ellsbury will stay in centerfield with Cameron manning left. Let us unpack, shall we?
Good news for the Sox having Cameron back. He started slow before the injuries sapped him, but he appears to be feeling great now. He even hit a walkoff homer in his last minor league rehab assignment.
I like Ellsbury in centerfield. As his comments here suggest, he wasn’t comfy in left, and given how banged up everyone is, better to keep them in their comfort zone (and Ellsbury has more comfort in Fenway’s centerfield than Cameron does).
The McDonald DFA brought forth all kinds of “wow, tough break for him; what a shame there’s no way to keep him” sentiment among Boston scribes on Twitter last night. Terry Francona was downright misty when he announced it. I get that, I suppose, inasmuch as McDonald had a couple of big hits right after being called up when everything seemed so bleak for the Sox. But let’s face facts: McDonald was hitting .263/.320/.400, which is pretty much off-the-shelf production for a career minor leaguer called up to the bigs, and his defense wasn’t all that good either.
I’m not criticizing the Boston writers for their sympathies for the guy. Just noting that while the east coast media are often described as tougher than nails and highly critical, they have their sappy side too. Indeed, it seems like every other year either the Boston or New York people fall in love with some amiable-yet-replaceable fill-in like McDonald at the same moment they’re ripping someone who is actually a key contributor to the team.
They’re not always good, not always bad. Just . . .complicated.
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.