Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that free agent catcher Jason Castro has multiple three-year ofers and suggests that the team that is willing to go four years might get an edge to procure the backstop’s services.
The Twins, Braves, Rays, and Angels are among the handful of teams that have reported interest in Castro. The 29-year-old finished the 2016 season having hit .210/.307/.377 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI in 376 plate appearances. Given that Castro has, over the course of his six-year career, hit lefties much better than righties, he might be a good fit as part of a platoon.
Rosenthal adds that free agent catcher Nick Hundley can serve as a “Plan B” for the clubs who miss out on Castro. The Orioles in particular seem to be enamored with a reunion with Hundley.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that, prior to signing slugger Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33 million contract, the Blue Jays offered a four-year, $80 million contract to free agent Edwin Encarnacion. Heyman adds that the Jays are still interested in bringing Encarnacion back even after signing Morales.
Encarnacion, who turns 34 years old in January, hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI in 702 plate appearances this past season. He’s been one of baseball’s most productive hitters over the last five seasons and has even made some strides defensively at first base. Encarnacion just completed what turned out to be a four-year, $37 million contract, so the Jays’ most recent offer represents a significant pay raise.
With Morales in the fold, the DH spot is mostly spoken for in Toronto, so bringing Encarnacion back for full-time work at first base would push Justin Smoak back to the bench and likely would make him a trade candidate.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Mariners inquired with the Pirates about outfielder Andrew McCutchen earlier this offseason, but talks didn’t advance any further.
McCutchen, 30, is coming off an uncharacteristically mediocre season. The five-time All-Star hit .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs and 79 RBI in 675 plate appearances. His .766 OPS represented a decline of over 130 points from his previous season and over 100 points compared to his career average. McCutchen’s defense has also tapered off, which has led to the Pirates considering moving him away from center field.
Though Leonys Martin isn’t McCutchen’s equal offensively, he is better defensively and might have retained ownership of center field if McCutchen had joined the team. As presently situated, the Mariners’ corner outfield spots figure to be handled by some combination of Seth Smith, Ben Gamel, Danny Valencia, Nelson Cruz, and Guillermo Heredia.