The climb continues for Stephen Strasburg.
According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, the rehabbing right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) over three innings tonight in his latest minor league rehab start with Class A Hagerstown.
Strasburg, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, gave up two hits while striking out six, walking one and hitting a batter. He topped out at 98 mph on the radar gun and was pulled after throwing 40 out of 60 pitches for strikes.
Strasburg struggled in his previous start with Class A Hagerstown last Wednesday, so while he wasn’t perfect tonight, this outing was certainly a step in the right direction. The 23-year-old is tentatively scheduled to make his fifth rehab start Saturday, either with High-A Potomac or Triple-A Syracuse. While his 30-day rehab clock expires on September 6, it’s possible he could join the Nationals’ rotation as soon as September 2 against the Mets.
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.