The Red Sox have reportedly identified Mike Napoli as their No. 1 target in free agency, but they are also weighing the alternatives.
According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Red Sox are talking to Adam LaRoche as a potential fallback option for first base. The Red Sox have made a three-year offer to Napoli, but it’s believed that he wants a four-year deal. The Rangers and Mariners are his other prominent suitors.
Heyman hears that the Nationals have been “fairly steadfast” in offering LaRoche a two-year deal and they could hold firm on that acquiring Denard Span earlier today, as Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth project to play the corners while Michael Morse could simply slide over to first base. Of course, it’s still possible the Nationals could re-sign LaRoche and entertain trade offers for Morse.
LaRoche, 33, batted .271/.343/.510 with 33 home runs, 100 RBI and an .853 OPS this past season and also won his first Gold Glove award. He declined a $13.3 million qualifying offer from the Nationals in order to test free agency, so whoever signs him would have to surrender a draft pick.
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.