The Orioles have agreed with free-agent catcher Welington Castillo to a one-year, $6 million deal with a player option for 2018, pending medical review, according to an industry source.
The decision likely ends the Orioles’ tenure of Matt Wieters, who has been the club’s primary starting catcher since 2009, but is a free agent this winter.
Castillo’s representatives and the Orioles had been in discussion for the last week, but negotiations hit a snag Monday because of potential length of contract, according to a source.
The talks re-energized Wednesday, with the Orioles agreeing to the deal that is essentially for two years and $13 million — if Castillo wants to the remain with the club in 2018 for a $7 million salary. That will be his choice.
The Orioles don’t like including opt-out clauses in contracts, but this is more of an “opt-in,” extending the deal if Castillo wants to play in Baltimore for a second year.
Castillo, 29, was entering his last year of arbitration when he wasn’t tendered a contract by the Arizona Diamondbacks in December. He likely would have made around or slightly above $6 million in arbitration in 2017.
A Dominican Republic native who has been in the majors for seven years, Castillo hit 14 homers and drove in 68 runs in 113 games for the Diamondbacks in 2016. He threw out an impressive 38 percent of would-be basestealers, but also tied for the National League lead in passed balls with 10. He is expected to be the club’s primary catcher with Caleb Joseph acting as his backup.
In a bit of coincidence, Castillo was dealt from the Seattle Mariners to the Diamondbacks in June 2015 as part of a trade that included Mark Trumbo, whom the Orioles are still hoping to re-sign this winter.
Wieters, 30, had remained on the Orioles’ radar this winter, but his market is not expected to heat up until January. The Orioles view Castillo as a comparable hitter and defender who is younger and more affordable than Wieters.
FanRag Sports first reported the deal and the terms.