According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, veteran catcher Welington Castillo has signed a two-year deal with a club option with the Chicago White Sox. In what is arguably the biggest move of the offseason so far, Rick Hahn has added one of the better offensive catchers in the league, something they’ve struggled getting production out of since A.J. Pierzynski left the team in 2013.
Castillo, 30 is an eight year veteran who has spent time with the Orioles, Mariners, Diamondbacks, and the Cubs. He is a lifetime .259/.319/.428 hitter who’s numbers have steadily gotten better over the past few years. His defense isn’t his top skill, though it has also gotten better. In 2017, Castillo lead the American League in caught stealing percentage, with a 49 percent success rate. He also lead the league in double plays turned as a catcher.
Defensively Castillo has always been known as a good blocker with a good throwing arm, but in years past his pitch framing abilities have lacked. However, over each of the last four seasons Castillo’s pitch framing runs rating has seen an increase, with the most significant coming this past season when he posted a +3.7 in that department compared to his 2016 rating of -9.4.
In 2017 Castillo hit .282 with 20 home runs and 53 RBI, a welcomed offensive addition for the White Sox behind the plate this season if he can replicate those numbers in 2018.
Castillo’s contract with the White Sox is reported to be worth $15 million dollars over two years with an $8 million dollar club option attached.
Castillo figures to get the majority of the starts with a young rotation, and will be a mentor for Zach Collins, the White Sox first round pick in the 2016 draft. Omar Narvaez and Kevan Smith will battle it out for the second spot this Spring Training, both of whom were with the White Sox for the majority of 2017.
Smith’s splits against righties are slightly better than Narvaez and he only has one minor league option remaining while Narvaez still has all three in tact, which should give him a slight edge. However, Rick Hahn may have a move or two up his sleeve with these catchers to clear up the picture for 2018.