Reports last week suggested that the Orioles were expecting the worst with Matt Wieters’ elbow injury and sure enough the team just announced that the catcher will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
The recovery time for Tommy John surgery is generally much shorter for position players than for pitchers, but that isn’t as clear cut for catchers and at the very least Wieters is looking at 6-9 months on the sidelines.
Wieters was off to a very good start before being shut down, hitting .308 with five homers and an .839 OPS in 26 games. He’s never cracked an .800 OPS in a season previously, so for Wieters to provide big-time value to the Orioles he’ll need to make a full recovery and get back behind the plate on a regular basis.
Baltimore acquired veteran catcher Nick Hundley from San Diego when Wieters went down, so he figures to see most of the action for the remainder of the season and could be an option for the Orioles in 2015 as well depending on Wieters’ recovery status heading into his final season of pre-free agency team control.
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.