Ryan Theriot

Shortstop now the priority for St. Louis

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After addressing their rotation and the bullpen with Wednesday’s Colby Rasmus swap, the Cardinals are looking for shortstop help, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  He hears that a move is likely and that it could be a “difference-maker.”

Of course, there isn’t really much for difference makers on the shortstop market.  Jose Reyes is unavailable.  Rafael Furcal is the big name, but he’s hitting .195 in 133 at-bats this season.

Shortstops thought to be available at the right price include Washington’s Ian Desmond, Houston’s Clint Barmes and Seattle’s Jack Wilson.  San Diego’s Jason Bartlett is better than that bunch, but it doesn’t appear that the Padres are at all eager to move him.

The Cardinals, though, could stand to do something.  They knew they were taking a hit defensively when they acquired Ryan Theriot to replace Brendan Ryan over the winter, but Theriot hasn’t made up for it with his bat, having hit just .263/.311/.320 in 353 at-bats.  Plus, the Cards are also struggling at second base and Theriot might be more useful there if a full-time shortstop is acquired.

So, let’s see what John Mozeliak can come up with.

Update: For what it’s worth, the Houston Chronicle’s Brian McTaggert is reporting that the Astros have told teams Barmes isn’t available.  Because when you’re cruising toward the worst record in the major leagues and you have a chance to keep a mediocre shortstop that’s going to a free agent at season’s end, you just have to do it.

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.