ESPN Los Angeles’ Tony Jackson reports that “a source with knowledge of the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity” said that the Astros aren’t looking to trade Roy Oswalt right now.
Of course we always hear this about big trade chits. Remember last year how J.P. Ricciardi was saying that he wasn’t really trying hard to trade Roy Halladay . . . after he basically told everyone that he was going to trade Halladay? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. Everyone is always available if the offer is right. If Steve Phillips gets hired by someone tomorrow and offers Ed Wade his team’s top five prospects, Oswalt will be at the airport ten minutes later.
But I’m more interested in this report’s source than its facts. Tony Jackson is a Los Angeles guy and he’s dealing with an anonymous source. I’m not exactly a seasoned reporter, but I have found that you kind of need to know your anonymous source for a bit before they’ll give you anonymous information. This leads me to believe that Jackson’s source is an L.A. guy he’s known for a bit. Maybe I’m crazy, but does it not seem likely that his source is a Dodgers guy who knows this information because the Dodgers inquired about Oswalt and were rebuffed?
A Dodgers source would call for anonymity far more than an Astros source with this kind of thing too. The Astros have already implied that they weren’t shopping Oswalt, and it would actually help their position if this line was underscored through more official comment, thereby obviating the need for leaks like this. The Dodgers — or any other team — however, would hurt themselves if their interest was known, partially because it would stoke expectations in the press and the fan base, and partially because it might stir competition among rivals for Oswalt’s services. In their case, whispers are the only way you’ll hear this kind of thing.
So, yeah, this all just armchair deduction on my part, but I tend to live by the two obs, and this kind of deduction usually works for me. I think the Dodgers have inquired about Oswalt.
The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.
In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.
The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:
Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.
The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.
Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.