For several years the MLB and the MLBPA has promoted an All-Star Series in which MLB players tour Japan in November. It has taken on various forms and is a modern day version of old barnstorming series in Japan that have gone on for over a century. Today they announced this year’s version, along with some of the big names taking part:
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association jointly announced today that MLB All-Stars Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will be among the group of accomplished Major Leaguers who will travel to Japan this November to play a five-game series against “Samurai Japan” (Japan’s National Team) in “All-Star Series 2014.” The MLB All-Stars will be led by Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, who led the Rangers to back-to-back American League pennants in 2010 and 2011.
There will be three official games, played in Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Tokyo’s Tokyo Dome and Sapporo’s Sapporo Dome. There will also be two exhibition games, with one in Osaka’s Koshien Stadium and the other in Okinawa’s Okinawa Cellular Stadium.
So, as of November, Yasiel Puig will have disrespected the game in two different hemispheres. Cool.
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.