Following in Mark Mulder’s footsteps, Darin Erstad has made official what everyone assumed by telling a reporter in his native North Dakota that he’s “done.”
I couldn’t be much happier. I got to live a dream playing baseball for 14 years, now I’m getting to live the other side and it’s a blast. I had my time. I always said, “When I’m done, I’m done.” I’m good. I don’t have any complaints. It was 14 very enjoyable years. I gave my heart and soul to the game. I’m comfortable with my decision to move on. Do I miss it? Of course, I loved to play. But what I have at home is great, too.
Erstad tried to find a bench job during spring training, but even then expressed some reservations about being away from his family for “three pinch-hit at-bats” per week. He lives in Nebraska with his wife and three children under four years old.
Mulder had his last good season at age 27, as injuries ruined what was shaping up to be an excellent career, but Erstad played until age 35 despite not being a particularly valuable player after turning 30. He didn’t crack a .700 OPS in any of last five seasons and didn’t top an .800 OPS after 2000.
Excellent and often underrated defense in center field usually made up for Erstad’s inconsistent and ultimately mediocre offense, and the former No. 1 overall pick retires with three Gold Gloves, two All-Star appearances, a World Series title, 1,697 hits, and about $50 million in career earnings.
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.