There isn’t a lot going on at the General Manager Meetings from a transaction perspective, but many teams are laying the groundwork for possible signings and trades down the road. With that in mind, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com was told by a source that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has spoken with B.J. Upton’s agent, Larry Reynolds.
Frankly, it would probably be a bigger surprise if Amaro didn’t talk to Reynolds this week. Upton has been connected to the Phillies for awhile now and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com recently pegged the club as the favorites to land him. Salisbury is hearing similar things, as a number of executives expect the Phillies to be a major player while one said signing Upton is the team’s priority.
Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn figure to get more money among free agent outfielders, but Upton will still be quite pricey. In fact, Salisbury writes that one executive from a team “that has probed the outfield market” has predicted that Upton will start out by asking for a seven-year deal worth between $13-16 million per season. That would put him in the range of $91-112 million, which is obviously bonkers. The same executive believes he’ll eventually settle for five guaranteed years with an option for a sixth.
Upton, 28, is a .255/.336/.422 hitter over his first eight seasons in the big leagues. He clubbed a career-high 28 home runs this season and was 31-for-37 in stolen base attempts.
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.