Chris Carpenter

The State of the Races

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AL EAST

The spread: Both the Yankees and Red Sox lose. New York stays ahead of Boston by two and a half.

The skinny: The Yankees, who just hosted Baltimore, now go down to Baltimore today for a makeup game. I’m sure everyone is thrilled to see these two play yet another game. All they need is rain. Oh, wait, there’s some in the forecast? Fabbo!

AL CENTRAL

The spread: The Tigers beat Cleveland again and the Sox lose. Make that lead nine over Chicago, nine and a half ahead of Cleveland.

The skinny: As long as no other playoff team is able to (a) trade for Shelley Duncan; and (b) circumvent playoff roster rules in a manner that allows him to play in the postseason, Detroit looks pretty good at the moment.

AL WEST

The spread: Rangers lose, Halos win, Texas’ lead is back down to two and a half.

The skinny: Both teams are off today, giving them time to contemplate how they have remained so close this season.

NL EAST

The spread: The Phillies beat the Braves — again — and are now ten and a half up.

The skinny: The Braves are a disaster at the moment and, after a Hurricane Irene-inspired double header today, they head to St. Louis for a three-game series against a Cardinals team that is suddenly only six and a half back in the wild card.

NL CENTRAL

The spread: Cards beat the Brewers — they took five of six from them in the two recent series — and are eight back with 19 to play.

The skinny: As noted above, sweep the wounded Braves and we’ll have an interesting wild card race on our hands.

NL WEST

The spread: Diamondbacks win, Giants lose, and the snakes have a seven-game lead again.

The skinny: The Dbacks play 13 of their last 19 at home.

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.