UPDATE: Now the tweeterbugs are speculating that the press conference is not about Molina, but about La Russa. The betting is the announcement that he’s going to return next year.
That would make more sense than a retirement announcement. For one thing he’s flying to New York today to do Letterman tonight and if he were retiring you figure he’d want to be around for all of the parties and thanks and hoopla that would entail. Coming back? That’s just a quickie announcement. For another thing La Russa doesn’t strike me as a “leave on top” type. For yet another thing there’s a chance the Cardinals are better next year with Adam Wainwright coming back and everything so why not give it another go?
Anyway: we’ll know in a few minutes.
8:45 AM: The Cardinals have announced a 10AM Eastern/9AM Central press conference. No word on what it’s about, but you can probably assume that it’s not about Albert Pujols because, like, 500 people would have been “hearing this” and talking about talking to insiders and all of that jazz before now if it was.
Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com speculates that the presser will be about Yadier Molina. Molina has a 2012 club option for $7 million which is one of the most brain-free no-brainers of the entire offseason. The Cardinals probably just wanted to exercise it now before Molina cleans out his St. Louis place and heads to the Molina mothership or wherever it is he heads for the winter.
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.