Ill will in Chicago? Dave Kaplan of CSNChicago.com reports that (a) the Ryan Dempster to Los Angeles trade is at a stalemate; and (b) Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are not likely to take less than what they feel is fair value for the guy. So, if the Dodgers — who, according to Kaplan, believe that the Cubs have lost their leverage — don’t pony up, it’s all going to be on Dempster:
“Dempster will have to answer some tough questions if he is still a Cub after the deadline,” one executive told me. “That will be one press conference I would want to see. He will have to explain to the fans why he chose to stay on a team that is going nowhere when he could have been in Atlanta and possibly pitching in the playoffs. That will be interesting to hear.”
I have poked fun at Dempster throughout all of this, but I do agree that he does not owe it to the Cubs to see that they get the best absolute haul for him in a trade. That’s their job, not his.
But it’s inescapable that the whole aborted trade to the Braves thing has killed the Cubs’ leverage here. So from where I sit, it will be more interesting to hear why, exactly, that trade to Atlanta breaking down went public than it will be to hear anything else. Because depending on that answer, Dempster may or may not be the one who has to sit uncomfortably in a post-deadline presser answering questions.
If Dempster did flip flop on his desire to go to Atlanta, he’ll deserve some heat. If, however, the Cubs went forward with the Braves to the point where the deal got leaked without a strong indication that Dempster would be cool with it first, it’s the club’s fault that their leverage got torpedoed.
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.