Some teams have all the luck.
Just a couple of years ago, the Blue Jays were stuck with massive commitments to both Alex Rios and Vernon Wells. But thanks to some old fashioned generosity by White Sox general manager Ken Williams and Angels general manager Tony Reagins, the Blue Jays don’t have to worry about paying either of them anymore.
The Blue Jays are now blessed with tremendous financial flexibility moving forward. In fact, according to Cots Contracts, the Blue Jays have only $17.4 million in payroll commitments for 2012. This includes contracts for Adam Lind, Ricky Romero, Rajai Davis and prospect shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and buyouts for Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch, Edwin Encarnacion. Aaron Hill still has a series of club options from 2012-2014 and the club will have potential arbitration cases with several players, including Mike Napoli, Yunel Escobar and Brandon Morrow. There’s also the matter of whether they sign the arbitration-eligible Jose Bautista to a multi-year contract.
Don’t forget that the Blue Jays also have a boatload of early draft picks — seven in the first 80, to be exact — which should help bolster what is already one of the deepest farm systems in baseball. The American League East is a tough place to compete, but Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is quietly building something pretty interesting in Toronto.
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.