Vladimir Guerrero’s poor postseason performance has people questioning if the Rangers should exercise their half of his $9 million mutual option for 2011, but the truth is that should have been in question well before the playoffs even began.
Guerrero went 13-for-59 (.220) with zero homers and a measly .513 OPS in the playoffs, striking out 16 times while drawing just two walks. He looked bad, no doubt, but 59 at-bats shouldn’t be the driving force behind any decision. Unfortunately for Guerrero, he also finished the regular season by hitting just .278/.322/.426 in 69 games after the All-Star break.
And while Guerrero’s strong first-half production made headlines and his 115 RBIs convinced some people that he had an excellent season overall he finished with an .841 OPS in 152 games, which is a) 100 points below his career mark, and b) not particularly great for a terrible defensive outfielder forced to play almost exclusively designated hitter.
Among the 151 players who received enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title this season Guerrero ranked 42nd in OPS. Certainly solid production, but far from special considering that group of 151 players includes guys who also bring something to the table defensively and he posted that .841 OPS in a hitter-friendly ballpark. Guerrero had a .796 OPS away from Texas.
Most of the discussions about whether or not the Rangers should bring back Guerrero for $9 million next season will no doubt focus on his postseason struggles because that came on the biggest stage and is fresh on everyone’s minds, but regardless of what he did in the playoffs the 35-year-old former MVP wasn’t looking like a $9 million player for 2011.
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.