Player A here is back with the same team he was with a year ago. In fact, it’s the same team he’s been with his entire career. He’s not playing for a new manager. He’s not learning a new position. He’s healthier than he was a year ago at this time, but given that he finished last season healthy, that’s hardly news.
Worse, Player A has played exactly two positions in the majors the last two years. Over the winter, his team acquired new starters at both of those positions.
So, tell me, how exactly is Kyle Blanks “getting a fresh start” with the Padres? Because he has new hitting coaches? Really?
The article even concludes with the fact that Blanks will likely open the season in Triple-A as a result of the team’s additions of Yonder Alonso at first base and Carlos Quentin for left field. Blanks also has some experience in right, but given that the Padres are already planning on carrying Jesus Guzman, Mark Kotsay and Chris Denorfia as backup outfield options, there’s no room for him on the bench.
If this constitutes a fresh start, I’d pass. What Blanks needs, considering that his long-term future is almost certainly at first base or DH, is an actual new start away from San Diego. The 25-year-old has power to spare and still might prove to be a long-term regular, but it’s not likely to happen with the Padres.
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.