X-rays originally came back negative after Rays leadoff man Desmond Jennings sprained his left middle finger on Saturday, but further tests Monday revealed a fracture, putting him on the 15-day disabled list.
Light-hitting Jason Bourgeois was called up to replace him on the roster.
The loss of Jennings is a big one for the Rays. His .258/.326/.419 line in 415 at-bats may not seem all that stellar, ranking just about average as far as AL center fielder’s go, but the only other player on Tampa Bay’s roster to see even an inning in center field this season, Sam Fuld, is batting .198/.270/.278 in 126 at-bats. Bourgeois, a 31-year-old journeyman, was hitting .291/.336/.371 in Triple-A.
The Rays do have the option of going to Wil Myers in center. It was his primary position between Double- and Triple-A in the Royals system last year. However, the Rays were using him strictly as a right fielder even before his callup in June; he hasn’t made an appearance at any other position this year.
It suggests that the Rays will try to get by with a Fuld-Bourgeois platoon until Jennings returns, with Fuld starting against righties and Bourgeois playing versus lefties. If the Rays do want to mix it up, they could use Myers in center with groundball pitchers Roberto Hernandez and Alex Cobb (currently on the DL) starting. But it’s probably not worth it.
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.