As expected, the Nationals have activated Bryce Harper from the disabled list for tonight’s game against the Rockies after the outfielder missed two months with a torn ligament in his left thumb that required surgery.
Harper finished up his minor-league rehab assignment by smacking three homers in a Double-A game and went 9-for-14 (.643) with four homers on the rehab stint overall.
Harper will resume starting every day in left field, where Ryan Zimmerman has been playing since returning from the disabled list himself in early June. Zimmerman has played well there defensively considering he was a career-long third baseman and spoke last week about actually preferring to remain in the outfield because of his chronic shoulder problems, but he hit just .198 in 25 games as a left fielder and the Nationals have said all along that he’ll move back to the infield once Harper is ready.
There could be some drama and tough decisions on the horizon if Zimmerman’s throwing issues or shoulder problems resurface, but for now the Nationals are at full strength with a 43-38 record and half the season remaining.
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.