Depending on how the Reds adjust their rotation between now and then Johnny Cueto may be in line to start against the Cardinals next week.
When he last faced the Cardinals on August 10 there was a benches-clearing incident and Cueto was suspended seven games after giving Jason LaRue a season-ending concussion with a kick to the head, so the follow-up start has the potential to be very interesting.
Fortunately for Cueto, manager Dusty Baker realizes that might not be the world’s greatest idea right now and indicated that the Reds may keep him from pitching against the Cardinals:
I don’t know yet. He’s going to have to pitch against them some time. They say time heals all wounds. Maybe it doesn’t.
Baker is right that Cueto will eventually have to pitch against the Cardinals, but next week’s three-game series is actually the final time Cincinnati and St. Louis will meet this season. And while the Cardinals are no doubt capable of holding a grudge until 2011, presumably the level of anger will have dropped off at least somewhat in eight months. Or at least Cueto can further improve his Kung Fu skills by then.
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.