I won’t bore you with many details from my trip to the SABR convention in California last week–if for some insane reason you want the details, click here–but there was one interesting event actually related to baseball that seems particularly relevant to HBT.
Scott Boras (also known as “super agent Scott Boras”) gave the keynote speech prior to SABR’s annual business meeting Thursday morning, which I courageously attended at 8:30 a.m. Journalism!
Boras’ speech focused on the transition he made from college star and mediocre minor leaguer to one of the most powerful men in baseball and how he went from hitting .288 with a .738 OPS as an infielder at Single-A and Double-A to building a hugely successful agency that regularly makes use of sabermetrics and research.
We’ve certainly been critical of Boras, mostly for his hyperbolic hyping of clients and ability to manipulate certain media members, but he showed the type of charm and humor that makes it easy to understand how he’s able to talk star players into choosing him and general managers into signing his star players.
It also made me want to buy a used car.
At one point the lights in the ballroom dimmed and Boras didn’t skip a beat, quickly quipping that “SABR is a lot like the Dodgers, they don’t pay their bills either.”
He got big laughs throughout and even discussed the first time he realized as a young agent how much “managing the media” would help him, which would’ve gotten the biggest laugh of the entire 45-minute speech had Calcaterra been in attendance.
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.