With the trade of Welington Castillo, the Cubs say goodbye to a player that has been a part of the organization since 2004 and welcome a new one with the acquisition of RHP Yoervis Medina. Let’s take a look at the player that caused the front office to finally end their three catcher experiment.
On the surface, the three catcher experiment seems like a failure and made a trade necessary. With three talented players and not enough at bats to go around, it has been suggested that production at the catcher position suffered. However, between the three of Castillo, David Ross and Miguel Montero, Cubs catchers have posted a line of .279/.379/.465 with five home runs and 19 RBI. It kept all three players fresh and probably helped keep a 38-year old Ross a little healthier. Castillo though had a rough May and was only 1-for-18 for the month as he was relegated to mostly pinch hitting duties and two starts.
By contrast, Yoervis Medina was in a similar situation with the Mariners, a player who had lost his place on the team, but has enough ability to contribute elsewhere. In 141 games pitched out of the Mariners bullpen, Medina owns a 2.82 ERA, 140 strikeouts in 137 innings and a troubling 1.33 WHIP. His career FIP at 3.74 is also alarming as it’s almost a full run over his career ERA. Those struggles likely earned him a ticket out of town, but with three years of team control remaining, the Cubs have time to figure out his issues.
Reports have already said that Medina will start his Cubs career in Iowa, but with the bullpen struggling with consistency it’s likely that his stay won’t be too long. The big right-hander measures 6-foot-3 at 245 pounds and leverages his frame for a mid-90s fastball to induce strikeouts as well as an effective mid-80s changeup.
In the majors he owns a 9.2 K/9, but only managed a 6.8 K/9 this season and that may be attributed to a 2 MPH dip on the velocity of his fastball that needs to be figured out before he can join the Cubs. Those strikeouts have helped him be fairly unhittable with a .228 average allowed against right-handers and a .198 average allowed against lefties.
With the injuries to Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez, the front office has struggled to find any regularity with pitchers that are good against both sides of the plate and Medina could end up being a key bullpen piece down the stretch.
The key to the Castillo deal will be if the Cubs can figure out how to work their magic on Medina like they did with Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. Both guys had their share of struggles, but have turned into key cogs on the pitching staff. If the Cubs can make Medina more reliable, that should take some pressure off the back-end of the bullpen that has been overtaxed due to a lack of steady options.
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