Magic Johnson told Bill Plashcke of the Los Angeles Times that he’s putting together a group to buy the Dodgers.
His group includes Stan Kasten, the former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, and Mark Walter, chief executive of Guggenheim Partners. To the extent that Major League Baseball has a say in who buys — and they will, although less than usual given the bankruptcy auction backdrop — having Kasten on board is pretty big. He’s a favorite of Selig’s, who put Kasten together with the Lerners in Washington when they bought the Expos/Nationals.
Johnson — while clearly the face of this group — would be more than a mere figurehead. He has sports ownership experience given a previous stake in the Lakers and a stake in the Dayton Dragons minor league team. He’s sort of a renaissance mogul, with numerous business and philanthropic interests.
UPDATE: According to the Associated Press, Johnson confirmed his interest via Twitter: “I’m excited to have the opportunity to be part of the Dodgers legacy & bring a World Series championship back to LA.”
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.