Tick tock. Welington Castillo is still a Chicago Cub, and Joe Maddon may very well want it that way.
But with new rumors swirling about interest in the Cubs’ current third catcher, it’s not hard to see him being dealt before the team breaks for Chicago next weekend.
Of course, if Castillo is to be traded, the Cubs will have to find a dance partner – a team sufficiently needy at catcher that they’re willing to give a little value to get Castillo from the Cubs. Reviewing the depth charts of the other 29 MLB teams might be the best way to determine just how robust the market for Castillo could be.
Incidentally, and not for these purposes, FanGraphs has been doing power rankings of each position for each team in baseball based on the expected rosters and projected WAR, and they started with catcher. (The Cubs’ trio, by the way, comes in at just 20th, but, keep in mind, framing value is not incorporated.)
Looking over the depth charts, I’m instantly struck by how many teams would probably be improved by adding Castillo.To be fair, I suppose, Castillo is likely better than the average back-up catcher (unless you consider receiving skills … which teams absolutely would for a back-up catcher), but there aren’t many teams that would pay substantially in trade to pick up a back-up catcher. So, for most teams, he’d be no more than an upside play at back-up catcher (and occasional DH), and there might not be an ideal fit there. But, still: there are almost no teams for whom Castillo would not add anything.
Touching first on the Orioles, since there is already a specific rumor about their interest, it’s easy to see how Castillo fits. Matt Wieters is coming off of arm surgery, and may start the year on the disabled list. Behind him, there is a collection of so-so options, but none offering the offensive or defensive skills of Castillo. Further, with Wieters bound for free agency after this season, and with the Orioles losing a handful of bats this past offseason, Castillo – who is under control through 2017 – makes even more sense.
The Diamondbacks remain an obvious fit, but they’ve apparently been intransigent about acknowledging their dire circumstances behind the plate. From where I sit, if they don’t expect to be competitive in 2015 anyway – and they probably shouldn’t – why would they give up anything of value to get a win or two better at catcher?
The Rangers, with Robinson Chirinos and Carlos Corporan at the top of the chart, could probably stand to acquire Castillo and immediately insert him as the starter. But, like the Diamondbacks, how aggressively are they looking to make moves to improve for 2015? And with big-time catching prospect Jorge Alfaro just a year or two away, is Castillo’s medium-term upside intriguing enough?
The White Sox have a wide range of catching options, but none are particularly compelling. Adding Castillo’s bat, especially in the AL where he could occasionally DH, would seem to be a good move for a team looking to compete in 2015.
There’s an argument that the Rays could use Castillo, but they’ve got a similarly-offensive semi-catcher in John Jaso behind Rene Rivera as it is. Then again, is Jaso really going to do much catching? Plus Rivera, 31, doesn’t have much of a big league track record, and is currently dealing with a calf issue. And, hey – the Rays are awfully creative with how they coordinate playing time. (Insert joke about Joe Maddon tampering compensation.)
The Phillies make sense, what with Carlos Ruiz getting older (and maybe a tradable asset, himself), and the Phillies perhaps trying to regroup relatively quickly after 2015.
The Tigers definitely make sense, as I can barely believe they’re planning to keep Alex Avila behind the plate with his concussion issues.
I could go on. There are seriously a very large number of teams that you can contort into a fit, depending on how that team is viewing their own situation internally, and how they value Castillo’s cost (low), offensive upside (very nice for a catcher), defense (very good), and receiving skills (very poor).