Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera turned some heads in 2009 when he swiped 22 bases and posted a .255 batting average and .342 on-base percentage as a 22-year-old rookie. He failed to make any sort of improvement last season, however, and finished the 2010 campaign with an absolutely brutal .208/.279/.278 batting line.
The Padres spun a trade with the Rays for Jason Bartlett this winter and plan to start the more offensive-minded shortstop on most days and nights this season. Orlando Hudson was also brought in as a free agent to play second base.
Cabrera is no longer guaranteed a big league roster spot. And even if he makes the team, it will only be as a backup middle infielder. He needs to have a good showing this spring.
For what it’s worth, he has already put on quite a show this winter.
According to Jesse Sanchez, who is covering the Caribbean Series for MLB.com, Cabrera hit .301 with eight stolen bases over 83 at-bats for Mexico’s Obregon Yaquis this offseason and is now helping the club compete against teams from Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the playoffs. A team from Mexico has won the Caribbean Series only five times since 1970.
The level of competition is a bit different and Cabrera still has miles of proving to go, but he seems to be seeing the ball well at the moment and he may be able to ride the hot streak into Cactus League play.
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.