Welcome to the future. At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston today, MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman unveiled a new analytics system that will change the way we look at baseball and player evaluation. While PITCHf/x has provided a treasure trove of information in recent years, this new system aims to track every play on the field and accurately measure things like defense, the path of the ball, and baserunning.
“This is going to be pretty exciting,” Bowman said. “We think it’s going to change the way we argue about the game, but we don’t think it’s going to settle any debates. We hope it starts more.”
For a look at the new system, check out this game-ending catch from Braves outfielder Jason Heyward last year:
Get used to hearing the phrase “route efficiency” a lot.
Miller Park in Milwaukee, Target Field in Minnesota and Citi Field in New York will use the tracking system in 2014 and the hope is that it will be ready to roll out in all 30 ballparks by next year. Bowman said that the technology will be available “for baseball operations and some fan use for 2014,” which is pretty darn exciting.
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.