A “scouting source” told the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales that the White Sox rejected a proposal from the Cardinals that would have netted them top pitching prospect Carlos Martinez in return for shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
The report doesn’t seem all that far-fetched, given that the Cardinals would surely like to improve over Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso at shortstop. Still, it is surprising that they’d part with Martinez, a big-time talent who has posted a 2.05 ERA in 11 minor league starts this year. The 21-year-old right-hander hasn’t quite put it all together yet and he is an injury risk going forward, but there are only a handful of pitching prospects with greater upside. Martinez throws in the mid-90s, and both his curve and his changeups show plenty of promise.
Ramirez, on the other hand, doesn’t qualify as anything special at this point. He’s turning 32 in September. His lifetime OBP is .315. He’s never been an All-Star or won a Gold Glove. Here are his home run totals and OPS+s by year:
2008: 21 HR, 104 OPS+
2009: 15 HR, 86 OPS+
2010: 18 HR, 99 OPS+
2011: 15 HR, 94 OPS+
2012: 9 HR, 74 OPS+
2013: 1 HR, 79 OPS+
Not only is Ramirez arguably overpaid now, but he’s guaranteed $19.5 million for 2014-15, with a $10 million option or a $1 million buyout in 2016. Perhaps he’ll bounce back to a 90 OPS+ and be just about worth the cash, but that qualifies as the optimistic scenario. He has more downside than upside. No, the White Sox don’t really have anyone to replace him, but that isn’t reason alone to keep him. If the White Sox can really get a prospect of Martinez’s caliber for him, they shouldn’t look back.
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.