Bryce Harper has been fighting it. Since the All-Star break he’s hitting .176 with two homers, 26 strikeouts and 15 walks in 116 plate appearances. He’s also getting frustrated, as Adam Kilgore reports, and will be getting a day off to clear his head:
In the Nationals’ 4-3 victory over the Astros on Wednesday, Harper extended his second-half skid by going 0 for 3 with two walks. He twice argued with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez after controversial calls. In the ninth inning, Harper made an ill-advised throw, trying in vain to throw out the tying run at third base while the winning run moved into scoring position. That convinced Johnson that Harper required a break.
To be fair, no one’s arguments with Angel Hernandez should form the basis of any negative judgment given that Hernandez is arguably the most awful umpire around. The called strike three against Harper in the fourth inning was clearly a ball. Both strike two and strike three during his sixth inning strikeout were balls too. Angel’s gonna Angel. It’s a clown strike zone, bro.
But like dog poop in a public park, you gotta learn how to deal with the Angel Hernandezs of the world, and Harper is clearly frustrated at the moment. A day off could do him some good.
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.