Alexi Ogando expected to sign next week
A three-win pitcher as recently as 2011, Alexi Ogando was non-tendered by the Rangers on December 2nd, falling victim to the “what have you done for me lately?” nature of the business. What he’s done lately is post a 6.84 ERA over just 25 innings of major-league work last year, before UCL trouble in his elbow forced him to the shelf, and that wasn’t worth a raise over his $2.6 million salary for 2014.
Not long after the Rangers cut Ogando loose came word from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that there might be shoulder issues to go with the elbow sprain. An AL exec told Cafardo that Ogando’s “shoulder medicals don’t look great,” which is bad news for a pitcher with a long injury history and poor recent performance. Concerns about the shoulder might ultimately prevent the 31-year-old from securing a major-league deal this winter.
They won’t, however, deter a number of clubs from vying for his services. Peter Gammons tweeted on Tuesday that the Dodgers and Red Sox would like to add the right-hander after watching him in a workout last week. Ogando reportedly “threw well” in the session, to which the Twins also sent an evaluator, per Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis.
Gammons noted that a resolution should come by the end of next week.
Daniel Nava could stop switch-hitting
There’s some history in Boston of outfielders who once batted from both sides chucking their less-productive swings. Bobby Kielty did it, back in the day. Shane Victorino did it, more recently and with more fanfare, due to injury during the Red Sox’s World Series run in 2013. Now, according to a report from WEEI’s Rob Bradford, who heard the news straight from the horse’s mouth, Daniel Nava could join the club.
Nava’s major-league career began with a bang—a grand slam off of Joe Blanton on the very first pitch he saw in the bigs. Blanton is a righty, so Nava batted left-handed in that debut trip to the box, and the long ball was a sign of things to come.
He’s a .293/.385/.428 career hitter from the left side, compared to just .209/.287/.298 from the right, and as Bradford pointed out, that split was even wider in 2014. Nava has consistently been a more powerful and more disciplined hitter against right-handed pitching, with a greater extra-base hit rate, better BB:K ratio, and higher BABIP, the last of which reflects more line drives, not necessarily greater luck. He has also demonstrated something of a knack for getting drilled when swinging from his natural side, collecting 41 bruises courtesy of righties compared to just one from a southpaw in about 3.3 times as many plate appearances.
At 31, Nava is what he is—a very useful role player who can handle either outfield corner and fill in at first base, all while delivering an above-average on-base clip and occasional thump. He’s arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter—after contributing 4.6 WARP in 944 plate appearances over the past two years—and should continue to be a nice bargain for the Red Sox, who sport one of the league’s deepest outfields.
That last part is a consideration for Nava, too, because there’s little reason to hone his right-handed swing if he’ll only take it into game action once in a blue moon. With Victorino becoming solely a righty hitter, manager John Farrell’s outfield depth chart skews heavily in that direction: Rusney Castillo, Allen Craig, and Hanley Ramirez all bat from the right side, and Jackie Bradley Jr., whose Opening Day job is uncertain, is the only lefty. Mookie Betts, an infielder who might see most of his time in the outfield by necessity, also hits right-handed, and so does Mike Napoli, the first baseman Nava might occasionally spell. Even if general manager Ben Cherington exports one or two of his surplus position players before April, Farrell is unlikely to need Nava to face a southpaw unless injuries raid the roster or a blowout is underway.
All of this, of course, assumes that Nava won’t be the player with whom Cherington chooses to part. Nava’s name has surfaced in trade rumors at various points during the offseason, and he might be Boston’s most attractive chip, though none of those reports hinted at serious talks or a deal being close. A new employer whose outfield is much shallower might value Nava’s ability to at least stand in the left-handed batter’s box without embarrassment, even if the numbers haven’t backed the decision to this point in his career.
In any case, this will be a story to monitor when Nava reports to spring training in February, whether it’s in Fort Myers, Florida, or elsewhere.
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