Elijah Dukes’ big-league career is likely over, but the former Rays and Nationals outfielder continues to make headlines for his off-field behavior.
Dukes was arrested Wednesday night in Florida for allegedly slapping his pregnant ex-girlfriend multiple times during a verbal altercation, with Ileana Morales of the St. Petersburg Times reporting that Dukes also has outstanding warrants for contempt of court and driving with a suspended license.
According to Morales the 26-year-old former top-ranked prospect was charged with aggravated battery and is being held in jail without bond. While the alleged battery occurred at a motel, the Associated Press reports that Dukes drove to his mother’s house and was arrested there “without incident.”
Dukes was suspended multiple times while playing in the Rays’ minor-league system–including a 2007 incident in which his ex-wife accused him of threatening her and their child–and the Nationals released him following the 2009 season for what was clearly something other than purely the “baseball reasons” they cited at the time.
Pretty safe to say he’s a bigger bust as a human being than he was as a baseball player.
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.