Reports from the Dominican Republic earlier had reported that free agent Carlos Zambrano had been signed by the Philadelphia Phillies, but those reports have been squashed. GM Ruben Amaro called the reports “ridiculously premature” per CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury.
Amaro had indicated recently that he was searching for pitching help from outside of the organization after Roy Halladay went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Lefty John Lannan has been on the disabled list since mid-April with a strained left quad. Jonathan Pettibone came up to replace Lannan while Tyler Cloyd made a spot start last night before being sent back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Zambrano recently signed with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League as he attempts to work his way back on to a Major League team. He pitched for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, allowing two runs on one hit and two walks in 3.2 innings. In 132.1 innings with the Miami Marlins last year, he posted a 4.49 ERA with 95 strikeouts and 75 walks.
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.