After missing most of 2009 and all of 2010 with shoulder problems Jesus Flores made it back to the majors last week for his first game action since September 12, 2009, singled in his first at-bat … and is now going back to Triple-A.
Flores’ comeback story is a good one, but when the Nationals called him up last week I wondered what exactly they planned to do with a third catcher when Wilson Ramos and Ivan Rodriguez were both playing regularly behind the plate. It turns out they didn’t plan to do anything with him, so after a grand total of two at-bats in nine days they optioned Flores to Triple-A to make room on the roster for utility man Brian Bixler.
Here’s what manager Jim Riggleman said about the move:
We’re carrying three catchers, and we just don’t really think it’s doing Jesus much good here. The opportunities and the need are not arising that often. We need to get him back down there playing.
He’s right, of course, but it just seems odd that Riggleman and the Nationals couldn’t connect those dots before actually calling Flores up to sit on the bench for two weeks. It’s possible that Flores could share time with Ramos next season after Rodriguez leaves as a free agent, but the Nationals trading him at midseason to a team that still views the 26-year-old as a potential starter behind the plate makes the most sense.
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.