As recently as last week 21-year-old prospect Matt Dominguez was considered the favorite to make the jump from Double-A and claim the Marlins’ starting job at third base, but today they sent him to the minors.
Florida newspapers were full of praise for Dominguez when it looked like he’d get the job and his defense gets universally outstanding reviews, but his bat simply isn’t big-league ready. He hit just .252 with a modest .744 OPS in 138 games at Double-A last season, more or less equaling his career marks, and went just 8-for-42 (.190) this spring.
There’s little sense in rushing any 21-year-old prospect to the majors for a team that’s unlikely to contend anyway, and doing so with a guy whose offensive game still has plenty of rough edges makes even less sense. Credit the Marlins for realizing that, although by putting so many eggs in the Dominguez basket they’re left with some pretty unappealing fallback options at third base.
In fact, their choices are so ugly that Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com speculated they might pursue 36-year-old Pedro Feliz, who’s currently in Royals camp and hit .218 with a ghastly .240 on-base percentage last year. In-house options include Wes Helms, Greg Dobbs, Donnie Murphy, and Emilio Bonifacio. Florida is no doubt hoping that whoever starts at third base on Opening Day is only keeping the position warm for Dominguez, but he’s no sure thing to light up Triple-A pitchers and force his way back into their plans at age 21. The jury is still very much out on his bat.
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.