Yesterday afternoon: Robbie Cano agreed to participate in the Home Run Derby at next week’s All-Star Game.
Yesterday evening: several thousand Yankees fans and no small number of Yankees writers freak out, wondering why a guy who sprays the ball all over the yard would want to participate in a home run hitting contest and wondering if said participation would give him delusions of grandeur, screw up his swing, make him a Communist and things like that.
Twenty minutes ago: Mark Feinsand of the Daily News tweets that Cano has pulled out of the Derby due to a “minor back injury.”
Anyone willing to bet their mortgage that this back injury wasn’t inflicted by Yankees’ front office types who really, really didn’t want to see Cano in the Home Run Derby? We’ll know when Cano (a) plays effectively in games both before and after the All-Star break; and (b) is vague to the point of ridiculousness when asked about that back injury.
In fact: I’ll buy a six pack for the first beat writer who gets Cano to respond “back injury, what back inj– oh, yeah, it’s coming along fine” to a question.
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.