April 15 has a lot going on — it’s tax day and Patriot’s Day — but in baseball it’s most significant because it’s Jackie Robinson Day. Sixty-six years ago today Robinson became the first black man to play major league baseball in the modern era.
Players will wear 42 on their jerseys today. Just about every columnist you read will have a remembrance or retrospective of the man today. Even if you’ve read a lot of these and know the general story, you should take some extra time to reacquaint yourself with it again. Or, maybe even better, go check out Jackie’s Baseball-Reference.com page. I sometimes feel like we spend so much time on talking about Robinson’s breaking the color barrier that we forget he was a hell of a baseball player and would have been Hall of Fame worthy regardless.
Also worth checking out are some things about Robinson’s post-playing career, which includes a lot of important work in the civil rights movement and which is often overlooked. Here’s a nice start to that.
Robinson was a complex and interesting man and that often gets lost as so much time is spent on the well-known and well-told partys of his story.
Happy 42 Day.
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.