Welington Castillo Is the Perfect Short-Term Signing for the Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles have a tough task ahead of them, trying to keep up as the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays upgrade their teams this offseason. While the O's haven't made moves anywhere close to the Chris Sale trade or signing a big-time free agent like Aroldis Chapman, they did make their first significant move this week.
The Orioles are making a change at catcher, signing former Arizona Diamondbacks backstop Welington Castillo to a one-year deal worth a reported $6 million, with a player option for a second year in 2018 at $7 million. With Matt Wieters hitting free agency and unlikely to return, it became obvious Baltimore needed to sign someone of Castillo's ilk.
He played in 113 games (547 PAs) last year, hitting .264/.322/.423 with 14 homers and a career-high 68 RBIs for the Dbacks. He produced an fWAR of 1.7 and a wRC+ of 92, which put him slightly below league average as a run producer.
In comparing Castillo to Wieters, the two players are actually quite similar.
Both players tied for 11th in fWAR among catchers with at least 400 plate appearances last season. Castillo's offensive numbers were better, but Wieters is the better defender, although Castillo is skilled at one defensive metric in particular.
Best pitch blockers among everyday C last season via @FieldingBible
— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) December 15, 2016
And Castillo has been a half-decent offensive catcher for the last three years -- ESPN's Jayson Stark noted there are only five everyday catchers who have at least 13 home runs in each of the last three seasons: Buster Posey, Yasmani Grandal, Salvador Perez, Brian McCann and Castillo. He is a bit strikeout-prone, however, whiffing in 26.5% of his plate appearances last year and nearly 25% over his entire career.
Whether it was Wieters coming back or some other free agent coming to Baltimore on a short-term deal, Baltimore's 2017 catcher is simply going to be a veteran placeholder until the Chance Sisco, the organization's second-best prospect, is ready for the big leagues. Sisco will start the season at Triple-A Norfolk, but it's possible he'll be on the big league club at some point this summer.
Castillo isn't a star, but he's a good one-year option for the Orioles, who are trying to piece together a roster that can once again make life difficult for the other residents in the American League East.