Orioles Notes: Castillo, Wieters, Joseph and Sisco

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The Baltimore Orioles are adding some “Beef” to their lineup, literally and figuratively.

Free agent catcher Welington Castillo has agreed to a one-year with the Baltimore Orioles. This was first tweeted by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports yesterday:

The deal was revealed to have a player option that would keep Castillo in Baltimore through 2018 as well.

Including the player option for 2018, the entire deal is worth $13M over the course of two years.

Castillo, who will be 30 in April, batted .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI in 2016. He is a lifetime .255/.318/.416 hitter during his 7-year career. His addition means that the Orioles will part ways with one of their longest-tenured players.

Free agent catcher Matt Wieters, 30, will be playing baseball in another uniform next year. He had been with the Orioles for the entirety of his career, but with Castillo taking a deal in Baltimore, Wieters will head elsewhere. Wieters has a career slash line of .256/.318/.421, but he will probably receive more money in the open market than Castillo did, due to the notoriety of his glove.

My Reaction

Wieters batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI last season. Castillo outpaced Wieters in all three batting percentages and in RBI totals. His numbers are also very similar to the ones that Wieters has and he’s getting less money than what Wieters will receive on the open market. This deal was a no-brainer for the Orioles and they did the right thing.

Although Wieters’ glove is considered to still be good, he hasn’t gotten back to where he used to be previous to his Tommy John surgery. Castillo’s bat is also much better than anything the Orioles had to offer previous to his signing. Even though this is the case, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs makes the case that Castillo isn’t even the best catcher on the team. He gives that honor to Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph:

There is zero question that Castillo swings the more powerful bat. Anyone can see that, and that’s any player’s most conspicuous skill. The bat is why Castillo even has a big-league job. Over a full catcher year, Castillo is about 10 runs better than Joseph. Maybe even 15, if you believe Joseph is in some sort of decline.

Call it 15 runs. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Using the Baseball Prospectus data, I’ve also calculated fielding performance over the past three years, per 450 plate appearances. We get Castillo at -11.6 runs. And Joseph? He’s at +20.0. Joseph doesn’t hit much; he’s maybe 15 runs worse than Castillo is. But Castillo doesn’t field much; he’s maybe 30 runs worse than Joseph is. We’re not arguing over narrow differences here. We’re not even arguing! The case is made. Joseph’s defensive advantage is something like twice as significant as Castillo’s edge at the plate. Joseph has been a phenomenal catcher, and it stands to reason a staff like Baltimore’s could use that.

Joseph, 30, handled the pitching staff pretty well in 2014. Pitchers pitched to a 3.00 ERA under the watchful eye of Joseph in that year and the Orioles won the AL East title. It is pretty convincing to see that Joseph calls one heck of a game, but his bat just wasn’t very good last season. He batted only .174/.216/.197 with zero homers and zero RBI in 141 plate appearances. To make matters worse, Joseph hit a measly .083/.108/.083. against left-handed pitching as a right-handed hitter.

In the case of Joseph, it is probably best to have him be the backup catcher, in case of injury to Castillo. Everyone knows that he’s an amazing defensive catcher, but he just can’t hit. Eventually, he will probably be the teacher to the Orioles’ top prospect, catcher Chance Sisco.

Unleash The Dragon

Sisco will only be 22-years old when the 2017 season starts and he will be expected to start the season in Triple-A Norfolk. Last season, Sisco batted .317/.403/.422, hit six homers and 51 RBI with Double-A Bowie and in Norfolk. He has a bright future waiting ahead of him according to many scouts, but he has to work on his craft behind the plate.

In a scouting report from Steve Melewski of MASN Sports and Baseball America, he describes Sisco’s uphill battle as a catcher:

Pitchers who threw to him at Double-A Bowie said his game-calling and game management took nice strides. His pop times on throws to second base remain around 2.0 seconds, which is average, but he was over that more often than under it. His arm strength grades a tick below-average, and he needs to continue to improve his footwork and transfer to help him throw out runners. He caught 24 percent of basestealers in 136 attempts this year. Sisco’s blocking and receiving skills also improved as did his ability to frame pitches. He had just four passed balls in 87 games. When Sisco first got to Double-A in 2015 and began working with older pitchers, he learned from them and grew because of it. It even helped him at the plate because he could understand better how pitchers approach getting hitters out.

The young catcher can make an impact in 2017. Will he actually, is the question?

About Kyle Andrews 90 Articles
Born in Norfolk, VA and raised Baltimore, MD. Currently a college student at the University of Baltimore and formerly the sports editor of McDaniel College. Also a former intern of PressBox Online in Baltimore.

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