After watching the Dodgers strike gold with Yasiel Puig, the NL West rival Giants are trying to land the next impact bat out of Cuba.
Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.com reports that Giants general manager Brian Sabean and special assistant Felipe Alou are currently in the Dominican Republic scouting first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu. The 26-year-old slugger will need to establish residency outside of Cuba and be unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control before being declared a free agent by MLB, but speculation is that he could top the $42 million deal received by Puig.
Soldevila notes that the Red Sox also scouted Abreu today, so there promises to be plenty of competition in order to sign him, but Giants vice president Bobby Evans indicated to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com two weeks ago that the team could be willing to make a big splash on the international market.
“The risk and cost assessment has to be part of the equation,” Giants vice president Bobby Evans told me. “As for the rewards, you do look at what some of these recent high-risk signings have done. It does give you a sense of `This is the potential.’ It does give you that desire to say, `Hey, can we get the next one?’”
If the Giants were to sign Abreu, they would have to move Brandon Belt from first base to left field.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.
The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.
Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.
Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.
Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.
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.