Welington Castillo emerges as the top catcher target for O's - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Welington Castillo emerges as the top catcher target for O’s

Photo credit: Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports Network

Welington Castillo, a seven-year, major-league veteran who recently was non-tendered a contract by the Arizona Diamondbacks, has emerged as the Orioles’ primary target at catcher.

According to industry sources, the Orioles have had continued negotiations with Castillo’s representatives since the winter meetings ended Thursday in Washington D.C., and there is optimism that a multi-year deal could get done. But it is still firmly in the discussion phase.

The club is looking for a catcher to share time with Caleb Joseph now that long-time starter Matt Wieters is a free agent. Earlier this week, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Wieters remained on the club’s wish list. But there’s growing concern within the organization that the Orioles might miss out on currently available catchers if Wieters does not sign for another month.

Wieters’ agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday at the winter meetings that, in his experience, his catchers don’t usually sign until January as teams work to find the best fit. And that could be the case with Wieters, Boras suggested.

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The Orioles have had interest in other free-agent backstops this winter such as Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta, but Castillo seems to be the catcher the Orioles are most aggressively pursuing right now.

The 29-year-old Castillo hit .264 with 14 homers, 68 RBIs and a .745 OPS in 113 games for the Diamondbacks in 2016. He set a career-high in RBIs, plate appearances (457) and strikeouts (121).

Known more as an offensive catcher, Castillo threw out 38 percent of would-be basestealers last year, a career-best mark for a full season. But he also set a career-high with 10 passed balls, tying for most in the National League. His pitch-framing skills in 2016 were rated slightly in the negative category – below Joseph’s, but ahead of Wieters’.

One National League scout that has watched Castillo routinely over the years said he believes the Dominican Republic native still has upside defensively, but hasn’t been as consistent as he’s capable of being behind the plate.

John Russell, the Orioles’ bench coach, is considered one of the best catching instructors in the game.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. bigdaddydk

    December 10, 2016 at 6:26 am

    Based on this past year, Castillo appears to be a slight upgrade. And his slash line against LHP, although a small sample, .278/.346/.868 looks really good for a team that waved at a lot of pitches from lefties last year. For comparison, Wieters’ slash line against lefties was .231/.304/.651. Strikes out a bit much (would the O’s look at him if he didn’t?) but a lot less against lefties. And his OBP exceeded Wieters’ by 20 points on the season. While he’s not going to be mistaken for Buster Posey in that regard, his numbers look better than Wieters overall, and he won’t require a king’s ransom to sign. He’d be a good stop gap/mentor until Sisco is ready to fill in behind the plate. It would not be unreasonable to offer him $6 million/yr. to come to Baltimore. They could get two to three years of him for one year of Wieters for similar, if not slightly better production.

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