UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun now writes that the Orioles will receive Chris Davis and right-hander Tommy Hunter in exchange for Uehara. They’ll also send some cash the Rangers’ way. That’s a pretty good get considering Uehara was of little use on a losing team.
5:20 PM: Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles are close to trading Koji Uehara to the Rangers. And according to his colleague Dan Connolly, the Orioles will receive Chris Davis in return.
Uehara, 36, has thrived as a reliever over the past two seasons, posting a 2.27 ERA and 117/13 K/BB ratio over 91 innings. He has a 1.72 ERA and 0.70 (!) WHIP over 47 innings this season. The Japanese right-hander is making $3 million this season and has a $4 million vesting option that kicks in once he reaches 55 appearances. He has already made 43 appearances this season, so he’s a near-lock to get there if he stays healthy.
Davis has a .248 batting average and 301 strikeouts over 878 major league at-bats, but still possesses some potential as a power bat. The 25-year-old has a 1.006 OPS over 975 plate appearances in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He could very well be a Quad-A bat in the long run, but he has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. Baltimore would seem to be a good place for him to get an extended look against major league pitching, though Davis and Mark Reynolds in the same lineup could make for some easy outs.
Hunter, 25, has pitched exclusively in relief this season after getting a late start due to a groin injury. He was 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA over 22 starts and one relief appearance last season, so he offers the Orioles some flexibility.
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.