Barring a team swooping in at the last minute and paying the front office’s asking price for Welington Castillo, the Cubs are going to start the season with three catchers on its active roster.
At least four teams have shown interest in Castillo during Spring Training. And the Cubs reportedly had a conversation with the Orioles about a Castillo for LHP Brian Matusz swap. The front office values Castillo being on the Cubs bench and providing depth behind Miguel Montero and David Ross more than what he would bring in trade at this point back to the team.
Castillo told ESPN Chicago that he expected to be traded during camp, but he is glad he wasn’t. Castillo said he will prepare every day to help the team when he’s needed.
Joe Maddon talked to Castillo about the role he will have with the team.
“I told him, I think he’s a Major League catcher, we think he’s a Major League catcher. Obviously, it’s going to be more difficult to be slotted in that he’d like to be right now,” Maddon told the team’s beat writers.
Montero and Ross figure to get a majority of the playing time. Having Castillo on the roster will give Maddon the flexibility to pinch-run or pinch-hit for one of catchers late in games. And Castillo could play a role defensively in order to control the other team’s running game.
“There’s a lot of opportunity in the latter part of the game, whether it’s pinch-running for somebody else or pinch-hitting, and beyond that get him some starts,” Maddon said. “Of course, somebody will get injured … it always happens … so be ready. He’s still young. He’s the kind of guy I don’t think we want to lose. That’s a premium position to find. You don’t shake a tree and find a good catcher. We have three good catchers here and that’s really nice to have.”
Welington Castillo as an insurance policy could pay dividends down the road for this team, if he’s not traded. With all three catchers unable to play another position, in the National League it’s really questionable how long the front office will be able to keep three healthy catchers on the active roster.
Theo Epstein addressed the situation a little over two weeks ago with ESPN Chicago. Epstein said then the team was willing to trade Castillo if they received the right offer. And Epstein pointed out it would have to be a really good offer.
Bruce Levine reported the Cubs were pursuing starting pitching with Castillo possibly part of those discussions with other teams. When asked Monday if he thought any trades would be made before the end of Spring Training, Epstein said it wasn’t likely a deal would be made outside of camp.
Theo Epstein explained the team would monitor small trade possibilities and the waiver wire but he wasn’t anticipating any big deals being made.
Welington Castillo had a very good Spring Training both offensively and defensively. And as long as he remains with the Cubs, Castillo will provide insurance to the team in the event either Miguel Montero or David Ross land on the disabled list.