UPDATE, 12:03 PM: Castrovince adds this morning that the Mariners will pick up the rest of Branyan’s nearly $1.2 million in remaining salary. Yup, the deal just got even more perplexing.
12:18 AM: Here’s an odd one.
According to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, the Mariners have reacquired first baseman Russell Branyan from the Indians for 23-year-old center fielder Ezequiel Carrera and 21-year-old shortstop Juan Diaz.
Carrera and Diaz are far from top prospects, but Branyan is 34 and clearly at the tail end of his career. The Mariners had plenty of chances to re-sign him this offseason and never made it happen. Now 14 games back in the American League West standings, are they really thinking that his bat is going to provide a serious boost?
Branyan was hitting a respectable .263/.328/.491 with 10 home runs for Cleveland, but there are too many holes in Seattle this season. It just doesn’t make sense to deal young talent.
Known mostly for his speed, Carrera was hitting .268/.339/.318 with zero home runs and nine stolen bases in 64 games this season for Triple-A Tacoma. Diaz was batting .295 with a .779 OPS, seven home runs and 41 RBI in 254 at-bats with Single-A High Desert.
The Indians are expected to recall Matt LaPorta from Triple-A Columbus, where he has been mashing to the tune of a 1.061 OPS since his June 7 demotion. He will start for the rest of the season at first base.
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.