Earlier this week, there was a rumor that several teams were interested in Chicago Cubs catcher Welington Castillo, including the Orioles, and yesterday we took a look at how many teams could use a quality – in total value – backstop like Castillo, who has otherwise been relegated to third on the Cubs’ depth chart.
It remains possible that the Cubs could keep Castillo, at least for a little while, and give manager Joe Maddon a chance to be creative with a three-catcher roster in the NL, something he’s indicated an interest in trying.
If the Cubs deal him, though – which still strikes me as the slightly more likely outcome – Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs are looking for pitching in trade right now. Specifically, starting pitching, and, even more specifically, starting pitching that could help them right now.
Certainly, the Cubs’ extreme rotational depth has been diminished greatly this Spring, with Jacob Turner going down for while with an elbow injury, with Tsuyoshi Wada going down for a while with a groin injury, and with Felix Doubront not pitching like a guy who has a real shot of continuing to start with the Cubs. Then there’s Edwin Jackson, who was rocked his last time out, and some of the other depth options not stepping forward (Eric Jokisch hasn’t had a great Spring, and Dallas Beeler has been slowed by a shoulder injury).
So, at present, the Cubs look like a five-man rotation (Lester, Arrieta, Hammel, Hendricks, and Wood – maybe with Jackson sprinkling in) with very little margin for error if one of the main arms gets hurt. Right now, it doesn’t look like Lester’s dead arm is a serious thing, but it does add just a touch more urgency to the situation. I can certainly see wanting to add some rotation insurance at this point, or even make a significant upgrade.
On the other hand, it’s hard to see Castillo netting the Cubs an arm you’d immediately plug into the rotation, and Wada/Turner will be back at some point. Might it not be best to roll the dice with the guys you have, and simply get the best prospect return possible for Castillo? Or even just keep Castillo for now?
In all, it really depends. The ideal Castillo return might be a younger arm with minor league options left, so the Cubs could use him if necessary, but also shuffle him down to AAA if the front five stay healthy. But how good of a pitcher are the Cubs going to get who is also young and has options left?
We’ll see how this plays out, either in relation to Castillo, or a separate move for pitching. The final four or five days before Opening Day tends to bring along with it a flurry of roster moves around the game – usually nothing enormous, but certainly some notable transactions – and the Cubs have a number of guys whom they probably can’t accommodate on the 25-man roster, but who are also out of options.
Some things are going to happen one way or another.