Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton paces all major leaguers in home runs and even slugged four in one game earlier this season. But he wants merely to be an observer July 9 in Kansas City, when American League captain Robinson Cano leads a group of three mashers against National League captain Matt Kemp and his own team of distance swingers.
Which, for obvious reasons, is something that Rangers manager Ron Washington fully supports.
“I didn’t help him with the decision,” Washington told columnist Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday evening. “But when he told me I was very, very happy he’s not doing it. He has so much torque in his swing. If he swings and misses, he could get hurt. And if he’s hurt, we’re hurt.”
Hamilton had to be given IV fluids and oxygen after a game in late May because of dehydration brought on by a combination of high-90s temperatures in Arlington, Texas and a respiratory infection. He also had back problems earlier this year, and appeared in only 121 games in 2011. The Home Run Derby is an awfully taxing event. And there’s even a belief that it can have a negative effect on a hitter’s swing.
Hamilton tallied 32 home runs during the 2008 regular season, but just 11 of those came after he put on a show in the final Derby at the old Yankee Stadium. The 31-year-old impending free agent hasn’t participated in an exhibition hitting competition since that memorable night.
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.