Not only hasn’t Albert Pujols started producing like his usual self following a rough start to the season, he’s actually getting worse.
Pujols went 3-for-5 with three doubles on April 19, which was his first game with multiple extra-base hits and seemingly signaled that he was starting to come around. Instead he’s gone 5-for-50 (.100) since then, lowering his batting average from .296 to .202 and lowering his OPS from .759 to .524.
Within the 5-for-50 slump Pujols has drawn just two non-intentional walks while striking out eight times, which is very uncharacteristic for someone with significantly more walks (981) than strikeouts (718) for his entire career.
And of course he’s yet to homer for the Angels in 110 plate appearances.
There are 190 hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title and 180 of them have a higher OPS than Pujols, including Chone Figgins, Clint Barmes, Jamey Carroll, Cliff Pennington, Scott Rolen, Dee Gordon, Alfonso Soriano, Ike Davis, Brandon Crawford, Drew Stubbs, Miguel Olivo, and Ian Stewart.
Oh, and the guy who replaced him in St. Louis too.
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.