In this day and age it is almost impossible to find something that, upon being criticized, doesn’t find itself with at least some defenders. The urge to be contrarian can be almost overwhelming for some people — Slate has built its entire reputation on it — and thus you can be assured that even the most loathsome figures will inspire some “hey, they’re not as bad as you think” sentiment.
Still waiting for that with Jeffrey Loria and the Marlins ownership group. The knives have been out for them for weeks now, and it shows no sign of stopping. Even the people who once supported them so strongly that they gave them hundreds of millions of dollars are slamming them. For example, here’s former Miami-Dade County commissioner Javier Souto — who voted in favor of funding Marlins Park back in the day, but who now excoriates Loria — speaking to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
“This ownership group is a disgrace. I regret supporting it … This was a convoluted, complicated deal that [former county manager George] Burgess concocted and only he understood. He promised us it was the best deal…. Now, we’re close to a total boycott of the team. The best thing that could happen is for this ownership group to get the hell out of here for the good of the community.”
That’s nice and all — and, not coincidentally, a quite expedient position for a politician in Miami to have these days, but would that Souto and his friends have been as critical of Loria and his plans before giving tax dollars to him against the taxpayers’ will as part of a deal he now admits he didn’t even understand.
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.