Welington Castillo won’t be in uniform for the Mariners tonight. He is arriving after game time. Consequently, the Mariners have not made a roster move to put him on the active roster. That will happen either tonight after the game or tomorrow.
Obviously, back-up catcher Jesus Sucre will be sent to Class AAA Tacoma and Castillo will fill that role.
“He’ll back-up Zunino when he gets here,” McClendon said.
So why trade for Castillo?
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“We thought it was good fit,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “We wanted to make a trade to shore up that position. You hate to give up Yoervis. He’s a guy who has done some nice things for us and you thought he could be pretty good. Quite frankly, given the state of catching throughout baseball, we just felt it was time to make a move to shore up that position.”
The state of catching that Zduriencik referred to was the injuries to starters like Jonathan Lucroy, Devin Mesaroco and Ryan Hanigan, depleting the depth of the market.
“If you look around baseball, there’s seven teams that don’t have their starting catcher playing because of injury,” he said. “And if you look at other clubs where their starting catcher is someone you could make the argument isn’t an every day guy, we thought this was the thing to do.”
The Mariners basically have four catchers at the upper levels. They have their every day starter in Zunino. Sucre was the back-up. Meanwhile down in Tacoma, John Hicks, who was added to the 40-man roster this past offseason, is the every day guy with veteran John Baker serving as his back-up. If something were to happen to Zunino, the Mariners would have had to bring up Hicks, who has never played a day in the big leagues.
The Cubs were carrying three catchers on the big league roster. So at some point, that was going to change. Castillo was the third catcher and barely playing. The Mariners talked with the Cubs in the spring and then 10 days ago about Castillo. Chicago wasn’t prepared to make the move then, but contacted the Mariners on Monday morning and the deal was agreed upon on later that night.
“Obviously he gives us a lot more depth in our organization,” McClendon said. “From that perspective, it’s a pretty darn good baseball move. If you think about how physically tough catching is and the number of catchers that have gone down this year, if something were to happen to Zunino, I’m not sure we had the depth in the minor league system ready to perform as this level. We think it’s something that we’ll be really good for this organization.”
How much will he play?
“I guess the best way to answer that is his playing time will be predicated on Zunino’s performance on the field,” McClendon said. “We’re not trying to fool anybody. Mike Zunino is our every day catcher.”
But what this does is allow the Mariners to maybe play the back-up an extra day a week. Sucre had started six games this season and in four of them, Zunino still had to play because Sucre was pinch hit for. Castillo gives the Mariners a modicum for potential production at the plate when he plays vs. Sucre, who isn’t an automatic out, but something close to it.
The Mariners believe they can offset the loss of Medina with some of the right-handers in Tacoma. While Dominic Leone has struggled since being sent down, young right-hander Mayckol Guaipe, who has drawn comparisons to Medina, has been outstanding. In 13 appearances, he’s posted a 2.25 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched. Guaipe is on the 40-man roster. And if a right-handed reliever is needed in the near future, he will likely be the one called up.
Cruz back in Baltimore
A large media contingent awaited Nelson Cruz in the visitor’s dugout at Camden Yards. It is his first and likely only trip here this season. A year ago, he hit a MLB leading 40 homers, earning all-star honors in an Oriole uniform. He helped lead Baltimore to the American League East title.
“Good memories,” he said. “I had a great time and I think we accomplished something special last year. It’s always nice to see my ex-teammates and see the fans too. It’s was a great time. It’s a great organization, great teammates, great manager and the fans treated me really well.”
He was predictably asked if it ever got close to him re-signing with the Orioles.
“Yeah, we kept in touch when the process was going on,” Cruz said. “But unfortunately, in that sense it’s part of the business.”
Asked if the Orioles offered him three years vs. the four the Mariners offered, Cruz replied: “Yeah.”
Here’s the Mariners numbers vs. Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez
Here’s the minimal numbers of Orioles hitters vs. Taijuan Walker
Official game notes