Jason Castro (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
There has been a lot of talk about Jason Castro on this site over the last month or so.
Will he be traded? Should he be traded?
The questions and the discussion has been abundant, so there really is no point to re-hash too much of it. Castro was an All-Star for the first time last season hitting .276 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI’s. For the most part the former first round pick was healthy, but he did miss essentially the entire month of September with a leg injury.
Health is always going to be an issue for Castro, and with him being eligible for arbitration this year for the first time, it is a valid concern and an issue to address.
It appeared that all was quiet on the rumor mill, and that Castro would be the next Astro to receive a long term contract. Ken Rosenthal then wrote about the possibility of Houston moving Castro, and the buzz picked up again. Based on the factors at play, I’m not sure that there is much to worry about for Astros fans.
"The Astros‘ Jason Castro, a first-time arbitration eligible, is another catcher who could become a trade candidate, depending upon the development of Max Stassi.Rival teams have inquired on Castro, according to major league sources. If the Astros cannot sign him to an extension, he could become the team’s best trade chip. The ‘Stros also could move him to first base."
Personally, I can’t see a trade happening this year at all. Stassi’s development will be just one of the many issues at play here. Castro’s true value is with him behind the plate, and right now he is too valuable to Houston for him to be moved. As long as he stays healthy, I would expect that to continue, and for Castro to be one of the building blocks of future teams.
Instead, I would propose that the Astros trade Stassi if they are confident in Castro’s health. Young catchers are a valuable commodity on the trade market as evidenced by Travis d’Arnaud being moved twice in trades for former Cy Young award winners. Now I’m not saying that Stassi is as good, but he could net a nice return while the Astros retain Castro, his left-handed bat, and his knowledge of the pitching staff.
Castro was very important to the Astros’ young pitchers last season, and his knowledge will be a vital part of the 2014 Astros. The best illustration of this, is that new pitching coach Brent Strom and manager Bo Porter traveled out to California this week to meet with Castro to pick his brain.
"“We’re going to go up and meet with him and get his take on these guys and give some ideas to him,” Strom said. “At least when we get into spring training, we won’t be wasting any time just trying to get to know each other. We’ll hit the ground trying to understand strengths, weaknesses, what we can do, what I can do.”"