Jake Fox made some headlines during spring training for hitting .333 with an MLB-leading seven homers, which got people who didn’t know any better way too excited about a 27-year-old journeyman without a defensive home.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter stressed that Fox would have to improve defensively to get much playing time and sure enough he got a grand total of just 52 plate appearances through the team’s first 53 games.
Fox didn’t help himself by hitting .188 with two homers and a .646 OPS, and today the Orioles designated him for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Brian Matusz’s return from the disabled list.
Fox can still be a relatively useful bench player, but he’s hit just .231 with a .701 OPS through 519 plate appearances in the majors, isn’t a good enough catcher to be more than an emergency option behind the plate, and showed weak plate discipline even while crushing Triple-A pitching.
More than anything else, though, he shows that spring training numbers mean nothing as soon as the real games start. But we knew that already.
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.