While the Giants gave Aubrey Huff a vote of confidence following his adventures in right field following Opening Weekend, they’ve apparently seen enough. Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Brandon Belt has been shagging flies in right field and that Bruce Bochy is going to move him out there — and Huff back to first — sometime in the next few days.
It makes sense: while Belt hasn’t played in the outfield since he was in high school, his lack of finely-honed instincts can be compensated for somewhat by his speed and athleticism. After all, Huff’s instincts are poor too, and he lacks the speed.
Of course, Belt shouldn’t get too cozy out there. Given that he has utterly failed to hit so far this year — he’s currently sporting a line of .158/.256/.263 in 43 plate appearances — this may be more about getting Huff used to first base in anticipation of Cody Ross coming back from the DL and returning to right field. At which point it’s entirely possible that Belt is sent back down to Fresno for some seasoning.
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.