The Cubs have four catchers on the 40-man roster as the first week of January comes to an end. But it does not appear the front office is in a rush to move Welington Castillo. The Cubs starting catcher the previous two seasons became expendable in the right deal not long after Miguel Montero was acquired from the Diamondbacks despite reports of the contrary at the time.
And any doubt the front office would be dealing Castillo this winter was removed when the Cubs signed veteran back-up David Ross to a two-year contract.
According to Jesse Rogers, the Cubs would have preferred to trade Castillo before signing Ross. Interest in Ross from other teams forced the front office to pull the trigger on him likely before Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were ready to add another catcher to the roster.
Several teams contacted the Cubs about Castillo after the trade with Arizona was finalized for Montero. The Phillies and Diamondbacks were reportedly interested in Castillo during the meetings. And it appears Arizona is still looking at trading for Welington Castillo.
FOX Sports Arizona reported Wednesday afternoon the Diamondbacks are searching for a solution at catcher and “could find a match” with the Cubs in Welington Castillo or with the Blue Jays’ Dioner Navarro.
Dioner Navarro would like to be an everyday catcher, but with Russell Martin signing the rather large contract with the Jays (five years, $82 million) and Josh Thole on the roster, Navarro has been reduced to a limited backup catcher and designated hitter role with Toronto. Navarro has one year and $5 million left on the two-year, $8 million contract he signed with the Blue Jays in December 2013.
The Diamondbacks and Phillies are not the only two teams that have been connected to Welington Castillo. The Padres, Dodgers, Nationals, Rangers and Red Sox have also talked to the Cubs about Castillo according to Bruce Levine. Texas has been linked to Navarro as well.
Epstein and Hoyer could hang onto Castillo as the report from ESPN Chicago pointed out and begin Spring Training with him as part of the catching corps. Castillo is out of minor league options, so insurance in the event of an injury to Montero or Ross would not seem beneficial to him or the team. It is unlikely the front office would put Castillo through that and should look to deal him before pitchers and catchers report to Mesa on Feb. 19.
The report from FOX Sports Arizona did not indicate which player could be available in a deal with the Cubs for Castillo or with the Blue Jays for Navarro.
It is believed the Cubs would like to use Castillo in the right package to acquire a left handed hitting centerfielder. Two scouts Jesse Rogers spoke with about Castillo valued the 27-year old catcher differently. He turns 28 on April 24. One scout thought the Cubs could land “a decent prospect or bullpen arm” while the other thinks Castillo “would only net them a second or third-tier kind of prospect.” The scout that obviously has not liked what he’s seen from Castillo pointed to his defensive deficiencies and the need to move him as the reasons the return would be low.
Prior to the first of the year, Jon Paul Morosi expected the outfield trade market to heat up. Morosi reported then the Diamondbacks had four outfielders that could be available in the right deal … Mark Trumbo, Ender Inciarte, David Peralta and Cody Ross.
Welington Castillo is arbitration eligible for the first time. The acquiring team has three years of control before he hits free agency. ESPN Chicago reported Wednesday that Castillo’s days with the Cubs are numbered and he could be used “as part of a bigger package that includes a pitcher such as Edwin Jackson or even Travis Wood.”
There should be more than simply clearing a spot on the 40-man roster for Chris Denorfia on the horizon for the Cubs.