The Mets had big expectations for Travis d’Arnaud when they acquired him from the Blue Jays as part of the R.A. Dickey trade in December of 2012, but he put up a disappointing .189/.277/.269 batting line over his first 257 plate appearances in the majors prior to being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas on June 7. However, he has looked like a keeper since his return.
After hitting .436 six homers and eight doubles over 15 games in Triple-A, d’Arnaud has continued to produce against major league pitching. The 25-year-old backstop went 3-for-5 with two RBI last night against the Padres and delivered a go-ahead opposite field single in the top of the ninth inning. He’s now hitting .318 (21-for-66) with three home runs, five doubles, and 12 RBI in 17 games since returning from the minors. Just to put things in perspective, he had just six extra-base hits in 145 plate appearances this season prior to his demotion.
So, what changed? During his time in Triple-A, d’Arnaud moved closer to the plate, which has allowed him to reach outside pitches which were previously giving him trouble. However, as this excellent piece from Marc Carig of New York Newsday points out, a lot of his struggles were mental in nature as he focused too much on results rather than feel for the game. Either way, something has clicked for him and he’s suddenly looking like someone the Mets can count on for the next several years as they attempt to return to prominence.
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.