Today, the Chicago Cubs unspooled their crowded catching situation at the big league level, sending Welington Castillo to the Seattle Mariners for AAA righty Yoervis Medina. The Castillo portion of the trade was originally reported early this morning by Jeff Passan, and we worked through a series of updates throughout the morning, in case you missed it.
Castillo’s departure will save the Cubs about $1.5 million in salary, and will open up a roster spot for a more versatile bench player, leaving Miguel Montero and David Ross as the primary catchers. It’s likely that the Cubs will have had time to have that bench player in place for tonight’s series opener in San Diego. We know Junior Lake is coming, but, since Matt Szczur was just sent down this weekend, he’s not eligible to return (unless there’s an injury) for another week. The Cubs could give Arismendy Alcantara another shot, could really surprise and bring up Javier Baez (I doubt it), could add someone to the 40-man like Chris Valaika, or could add someone already on the 40-man like Christian Villanueva.
As for Medina, the 26-year-old righty has spent parts of the last three season in the Mariners’ bullpen with decent success, at least until this season. He’s gotten away with a huge walk rate by generating a ton of ground balls, striking a lot of guys out, and limiting home runs. He looks like a plausible, cheap middle reliever to me – something the Cubs definitely do need – but no one is going to be overly excited about this return. Castillo’s trade value was always hard to peg down, particularly because of the advent of advanced framing statistics that frowned mightily on Castillo. The Cubs held out for a long time on dealing Castillo, but I’m guessing they finally decided to relent, as the roster crunch started to become a problem.
For now, Medina will head to AAA Iowa, perhaps to work on a few things (his velocity is down this year), and could contribute at the big league level soon enough. I’ll have a deeper look at him soon (UPDATE: Actually, Michael has you covered here), but the short version is: solid reliever who has had some issues in the early going this season. Fair, if unsexy, return for Castillo.
Couple that with the money savings and the improved roster versatility, and this is a fine deal. I’m not jumping around, but I’m content.