Last night the Dodgers non-tendered Russell Martin and then quickly answered questions about their post-Martin catching situation by re-signing Rod Barajas to a one-year deal.
Barajas was claimed off waivers from the Mets following Martin’s hip injury and played well down the stretch, hitting .297 with five homers and a .939 OPS in 25 games. However, he hit just .225 with a .677 OPS in 74 games for the Mets and is a 35-year-old career .239 hitter whose 20-homer power is canceled out by a ghastly .284 on-base percentage.
General manager Ned Colletti indicated that Barajas “would take the lion’s share” of starts behind the plate, with minor-league veteran A.J. Ellis serving as his backup, although the Dodgers haven’t officially ruled out re-signing Martin. Colletti and Dodgers fans were no doubt impressed by Barajas’ performance down the stretch, but he’s likely to disappoint over a full season.
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.