Astros manager Brad Mills announced today that 24-year-old starting catcher Jason Castro will likely need surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee.
According to Mills there’s no timetable yet for Castro’s recovery because “they’re going to have to see once they get in there how much damage and what they have to do.” As the photo to the right shows, Castro suffered the injury while running to first base during Wednesday’s game.
Castro was the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft and made his big-league debut in June of last season, hitting just .205 with a .573 OPS in 67 games. Houston is committed to making him the everyday catcher this season and his minor-league numbers are significantly better, although still don’t suggest much star potential.
Humberto Quintero was the Astros’ primary catcher prior to Castro’s call-up last season and would likely be pushed back into a similar role, with one-time prospect J.R. Towles perhaps getting a final shot to show that he belongs in the majors as a backup. Quintero is 31 years old and has hit just .232 with a .593 OPS in his career, but even those putrid numbers look good compared to Towles’ career .189 batting average, although he’s at least put up some good numbers at Triple-A in between the various big-league struggles.
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.