For someone who has been talking about retirement, Lance Berkman is a pretty popular guy.
Berkman told Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle today that he has been contacted by the Red Sox, Rays, Phillies and Astros, though nothing has advanced beyond “tire-kicking mode.” He’s “waiting to be blown away by an offer,” otherwise he’ll attend to his volunteer assistant coach job at Rice University.
Berkman met with Astros owner Jim Crane last week and said that new manager Bo Porter indicated that he would likely bat third and serve as the DH if he joins the club. The 36-year-old wouldn’t say what it would take for him to return to the Astros, but he wants to be compensated commensurate to where he’ll hit in the lineup.
“If I’m going to hit third for a major-league team, then obviously there’s a compensation level that accompanies that,” Berkman said. “It’s just a matter whether the Astros would be willing to pay that or not. If they are not, no hard feelings. I just feel like if you are going to do a job you deserve to be paid somewhere in the ballpark where the job description entails.”
The Astros are the sentimental favorite here and they’ll need a DH for their first season in the American League, but the other three options would give him a much better chance to win. However, after all his knee problems this year, it sounds like he’d be fine walking away from the game if he doesn’t find the right offer in the right situation.
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.