Some very gritty insight from former World Series MVP David Eckstein:
“Albert would stay if (Jose) Oquendo got the job”
No word on whether Pujols’ agent agrees with that. Also no word on whether or not the Cardinals will lower their offer to Pujols to, say $16 million while hiring Oquendo to find out if Eckstein in right.
Whatever. The hook to all of that is Eckstein’s view that Oquendo is very popular among Cardinals players, particularly infielders who he helps coach, and that Oquendo has been groomed to replace La Russa. Which he may very well have been.
But just as it seems silly to suggest that La Russa’s leaving will impact Pujols’ free agency decision — La Russa wasn’t likely to manage the entire length of Pujols’ next contract anyway — it seems silly to say that the choice of new manager will influence Pujols’ decision making anywhere close to the nature of the contract offer will.
And remember: it’s not at all certain that they’ll hire a manager before Pujols’ contract is put to bed. They may want to — and it might make a lot of sense to — but it may not come down that way.
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.