Since you can’t get rid of all the players–particularly when you don’t have any money to hire new ones–the Dodgers have decided to fire hitting coach Jeff Pentland and replace him with Dave Hansen on an interim basis.
Pentland, 64, was the Dodgers “hitting instructor” behind then-hitting coach Don Mattingly from 2008 to 2010 before moving up to the bigger job this season, with the Dodgers ranking 15th among NL teams in scoring. He also previously filled the same job with the Mariners, Royals, and Cubs.
Hansen played parts of 15 seasons in the majors, including 11 of them with the Dodgers, and was primarily a bench bat who totaled just 2,893 innings defensively in 1,230 career games. After retiring in 2005 he served as the Diamondbacks’ minor-league hitting coordinator before joining the Dodgers’ coaching staff this year.
When a team ranks second-to-last in scoring it’s tough to quibble with firing the hitting coach, but Pentland also didn’t have a whole lot to work with this season as the Dodgers have given 1,500 plate appearances to Rod Barajas, James Loney, Aaron Miles, Juan Uribe, Tony Gwynn Jr., and Dioner Navarro. And really, Pentland coaxing a .700 OPS out of Miles should be considered a minor miracle.
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.