The Baltimore Orioles entered the offseason with quite a few holes on their roster, with several players set to hit free agency. One of those holes was behind the plate at the catcher position, with Matt Wieters one of those players who would be hitting the open market. Even with Wieters still on the open market, the Orioles have opted to move on. They have inked former Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Welington Castillo, who was non-tendered earlier this winter, to a one-year deal worth six million dollars, with a player option for seven million dollars for the 2018 season.
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The deal makes sense from the Orioles perspective. Offensively, Castillo boasts a very similar profile to Wieters. Both men are power-hitting catchers who will be middle of the road in terms of batting average but will be good for a decent amount of homers and doubles. Last season Castillo launched 14 home runs, compared to 17 from Wieters. Castillo is a year younger and hits more doubles than Wieters. Castillo is a former top prospect, and he could easily see some of those doubles turn into homers as he enters Camden Yards.
With his best attribute being his power, Castillo will fit right in with the Orioles. The team is known for hitting home runs and led MLB with a 253 last season. That was 28 home runs more than any other club in the league, with the St. Louis Cardinals coming in second with 225. The team’s leader in home runs, Mark Trumbo, who also led the league in long balls, is currently on the free agent market. Add in the loss of Wieters and the potential loss of designated hitter Pedro Alvarez, who is also on the open market, and the club could be losing 86 homers. Castillo could easily replace 20 to 25 of those.
From a money standpoint, Castillo’s deal will likely come at a cheaper rate than Wieters is asking. Wieters entered the winter as the top option at the position but has yet to see his market develop. With Jason Castro inking a three-year, 24.5 million dollar deal, Wieters will certainly be looking to at least match that. That deal will pay Castro eight and a half million this season, compared to the six million of Castillo. So assuming Wieters can ultimately land a deal similar to Castro, potentially with the Atlanta Braves, the Orioles will save a couple million each season for very similar offensive numbers.
The one thing the club will miss with this trade-off is on the defensive end. Castillo is not exactly a Gold Glover, as he often rates near the bottom in many defensive metrics for catchers. Wieters is typically near the middle or top of those rankings. But for a cheaper price, the team will be just fine with the trade-off, especially since Castillo is typically more sturdy and can stay healthy compared to Wieters.
The club also has Caleb Joseph who is a much more reliable option defensively. He can easily take over late in games when defense becomes a little more critical in a close game when they feel fit. His presence also allows the club to shift Castillo to the DH slot every so often if they feel they need the better defensive option on the field while still keeping Castillo in the lineup.
So what did you think of the Welington Castillo signing by the Baltimore Orioles? Tell us in the comments!