Theo Epstein said the Cubs are considering starting the season with three catchers and that Joe Maddon would like to have Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo on the Opening Day roster more than anybody else. Maddon has apparently changed his views and likes the options he would have with three catchers on the roster.
When Epstein told ESPN Chicago the team was strongly leaning towards three catchers, Epstein admitted the Cubs would trade Welington Castillo if the right offer presented itself. And it would have to be a really good offer.
According to Bruce Levine, the Orioles have “contacted the Cubs about Welington Castillo’s status.”
With Matt Wieters beginning the year on the disabled list and no timetable for when he will be able to catch again, the Orioles could be looking for a catcher.
Caleb Joseph is in line to be behind the plate for the Orioles on Opening Day. And former Cubs’ catcher Steve Clevenger is an option to backup Joseph along with Ryan Lavarnway, J.P. Arencibia and Brian Ward. The Orioles have reportedly “prioritized defense in their search for a second catcher.”
The Orioles are expected to contend for another AL East crown and the 28-year old Caleb Joseph didn’t exactly hit the cover off the ball last season in his big league debut. Joseph batted only .207/.264/.354 in 82 games with nine doubles and nine home runs for a .618 OPS. In nine games in the Grapefruit League this spring, Joseph is 6-for-18 with two doubles (.333/.333/.444) and a .778 OPS.
Welington Castillo has shown a lot of improvement in Spring Training. And Castillo has reportedly been more of a vocal leader with the pitching staff in camp than he has been in the past.
Castillo has been very good both offensively and defensively. Castillo has reportedly benefited from being around Montero and Ross this spring. Castillo has impressed Joe Maddon and the improvement he’s made is believed to have changed Maddon’s mind about having three catchers on the roster.
This spring, Castillo is 9-for-24 in nine games with three doubles, two home runs, two walks and four strikeouts (.375/.444/.750) for a 1.194 OPS. Castillo has put together a career line of .256/.324/.400 with a .723 OPS in 286 big league games.
Welington Castillo turns 28 next month (April 24) and has two more years of team control before he becomes a free agent. Castillo avoided arbitration with the Cubs and will be paid $2.1 million this season.
It’s unclear at the point what the Cubs could expect in return for Welington Castillo. And the Orioles are not the only team interested in him. The Phillies recently sent Charley Kerfeld, one of Ruben Amaro Jr.’s top advisors, to watch Castillo.
Bruce Levine reported the Cubs could be looking to add a pitcher, but he did mention any names.
The Cubs’ front office has a history with Dan Duquette, who is still in charge of the Orioles. The two teams worked out a trade in 2013 that sent Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to Baltimore for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop.
Updated 1:01am CDT – According to the Sun-Times, at least four teams have asked the Cubs about Welington Castillo this spring.