Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune seems to think so. He writes that the Rangers “are becoming a more realistic option” for Konerko.
The possibility has gained momentum in recent days, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported earlier this week that the Rangers were showing interest in the free agent first baseman after missing out on Victor Martinez, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Tigers.
Konerko, who turns 35 next March, batted .312/.393/.584 with 39 homers, 111 RBI and a 977 OPS with the White Sox this past season. According to Rogers, the Rangers view him as a potential replacement for Vladimir Guerrero, who is also a free agent this winter. The most likely scenario is that Konerko would split time between DH and first base with Mitch Moreland, who is also capable of playing the outfield.
Konerko would normally be in line for a massive payday after a career-year — and he still might get one — but teams have been increasingly less willing to hand out big contracts to players as they enter their mid-to-late 30s. Thus, I could see Konerko making some sense for the Rangers on a short-term deal if they aren’t truly sold on Moreland as their everyday first baseman. He would also represent an upgrade over Guerrero, who had a 748 OPS during the second half and offers zero flexibility in the field. Of course, the White Sox would be plenty happy to retain Konerko, especially in the event that a significant market for the veteran slugger fails to materialize.
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.