Texas Rangers v Cleveland Indians

Endy Chavez plays his way into bigger role with Rangers

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Endy Chavez missed all of last season following knee surgery and began this year at Triple-A, but the 33-year-old outfielder has hit .326 in 43 games since joining the Rangers in mid-May and manager Ron Washington is ready to give him an expanded role.

Chavez is a left-handed hitter and has faced almost exclusively right-handed pitchers, but with platoon partner Craig Gentry injured Washington sees no problem letting Chavez face lefties too, telling Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas:

Endy don’t care. When I got two guys that I feel is quality like Endy and Gentry, one against a lefty and one against a righty, it gives me a chance to get both of them out there. But Endy don’t care.

And you know what? He’s right. Almost all left-handed hitters are less productive against left-handed pitchers and that might be true of Chavez if given a long enough sample of playing time. However, he’s hitting .500 off lefties in limited action this year and is a career .291 hitter with a .703 OPS versus lefties compared to .269 with a .686 OPS versus righties. Of course, his career totals versus lefties consists of just 521 plate appearances, so it’s hardly definitive proof that Chavez handles them better than righties.

And while the handedness of the pitchers he’s allowed to face matters, the bigger question for the Rangers is whether Chavez will turn back into the same guy who hit just .274 with a .664 OPS in the three seasons preceding his knee injury. Washington is riding the hot hand right now, but if Chavez reverts back to his career norms the Rangers might not be so keen about playing him against lefties or righties.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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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.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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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.