When you’re as exuberant as Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, you’re bound to rub some people the wrong way. According to MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick and Lyle Spencer, Puig ticked off the NLCS umpiring crew with some of his reactions to balls and strikes:
Puig has enraged the crew, which believes he is showing up umpires at home plate. It nearly came to a head in Game 5 when Puig was called out on strikes by plate umpire Ted Barrett and stood in the batter’s box, left hand on hip, staring at Barrett. Earlier in the at-bat, Puig said something to Barrett, who came out from behind the plate, brushed off the plate and apparently said something to Puig.
Earlier in that game, Barrett called out Hanley Ramirez on a third strike and Ramirez shook his head repeatedly and had some words with Barrett as he walked away. In a regular-season game, Puig might have been ejected. Before each postseason series, however, umpires meet with managers and general managers and explain that, because of the importance of the series, umpires will exercise restraint on ejections, as long as uniform personnel don’t take advantage of their patience.
Gurnick and Spencer also note that Dodgers president Stan Kasten and MLB executive vice president Joe Torre were talking during batting practice prior to Friday night’s start, ostensibly about Puig. Puig was noticeably more reserved early in Game 6, not reacting at all to borderline calls by home plate umpire Greg Gibson.
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.