Jason Castro (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Joe Mauer is Moving to 1B, What Does That Mean for Jason Castro?

There is the potential this winter that Jason Castro becomes the second Houston Astros player signed to a long-term contract. But before that happens, there is another situation that we should look at.

The Minnesota Twins built their franchise around Joe Mauer. And deservedly so. The hometown product is a phenomenal hitter and a perennial contender for the batting championship.

That earned Mauer a $184 million contract, but there is one problem. He just cannot stay healthy. So for that reason, the Twins announced on Monday that he is moving to first base.

While it is hard to reconcile paying that much money to a first baseman who is not a power hitter — this had to be done. Aside from 2009 when Mauer hit 28 home runs and 2011 when he was injured for a large part of the season, the former catcher hit between seven and thirteen home runs in each year since his first full season of 2005. However, if healthy, the Twins can count on Mauer for between 80 and 90 RBI’s and a batting average in the .320′s.

And then when you factor in all of the intangibles Mauer brings to the table, it makes sense why the Twins would want him in the fold until 2018. But there is no way they would have given him the contract they did if they knew they would have to move him to first base.

First of all, moving him to first base was the right decision, because to say Mauer has battled injury problems is an understatement. The problem though, is that he is now overpaid for the position he plays. But this is better than the alternative, which is Mauer being out of the lineup.

With Jason Castro eligible for arbitration this season, this is a situation the Astros and Jeff Luhnow should be aware of.

The 26-year old catcher has had his share of knee and leg injuries throughout his young career and even this year, which was his first full season, ended early.

Now there is not a direct comparison to Mauer from Castro, but I think there is at least enough of a parallel to take it into account. Castro has more power than his Minnesota counterpart, but it does not stand out. I’m not sure Castro will ever hit more than 20-25 home runs, with similar RBI expectations to Mauer, so there is not a material difference to account for Mauer’s substantial batting average edge.

I bring this discussion to light since the Astros are planning to start long term contract discussions with Castro in January when the time comes to talk arbitration numbers.

Signing Castro to a long term contract is a very good idea. He is a home grown player who is the best player on the Astros. In 2013 he hit .276 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI’s. But his health has to be a concern.

I don’t think at this point committing to move the 26-year old to first base full time is the prudent move. Last season Bo Porter did a good job to limit Castro’s work behind the plate, but I think that needs to be done more this year and going forward. Between first base and designated hitter, there are plenty of opportunities to help keep Castro healthy.

However in the future, it is possible that Castro will have to be moved out of the catching position where he is more valuable from an offensive perspective. Even at first base though, Castro would still likely be an intricate part of the Astros offense, but they would need to make up the loss of power elsewhere.

When giving Castro a contract extension, this is something that must be considered and come into play when determining the length and dollars of any possible deal.

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  • 1oldpro

    If Castro’s bat continues to shine this year at catcher, the only place in our lineup he can be protected from injury is DH. Castros’s injuries have both occurred running to first base and there is no guarantee he will be a good 1B. I’m rambling, but I still think Castro gets traded at the deadline in 2014. Call me crazy.

    • Ray_Kuhn_28

      Yeah, you aren’t wrong there. Might actually happen sooner if you believe Jon Heyman, who knows. But we certainly need his bat as he is currently the best hitter in the lineup without question.

  • Larry

    Ray, I am really getting to wonder who is the Free Agents the Astros looking at & what trades the Astros are going to make in 2014. Now this Rumor about Jason Castro on the trading block. Well yes & no on trading Castro. No, reason who would the Astros have nobody yes maybe Max Stassi no way he could be a back up. But the No. 1 Catcher. If u want to keep Jason put him as a DH or 1st base. That is what Detroit Tigers did to Victor Martinez he is a catcher-DH-1B. But if yes what would the Astros get for him more prospects. If he is traded the Astros could go after A.J Pierzynski or a Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
    I have a question for u Ray & U haven’t answer my question if u had one pitcher from the Detroit Tigers who would go for Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello. Here is what imformation I have on both pitchers..
    Max Scherzer: Age 29: Wins 73 Loses 45 ERA 3.67
    Rick Porcello: Age 24: Wins 61 Loses 50 ERA 4.51

    • Ray_Kuhn_28

      Yeah, it is an exciting time and I can’t wait to see how the offseason shakes out. The Martinez plan for Castro would be a good one.
      If Castro does get traded, the Astros need to get useful pieces back they can slot into the 2014 lineup or rotation.

      To answer your question in brief Larry, Scherzer is the better pitcher and I rather have him. But he is more expensive (dollars and prospects) and is a free agent at the end of the year. Trading for Porcello likely makes more sense, so I have to chose a trade target, I choose Porcello.