On Monday, the Toronto Blue Jays signed the best catcher on the free agent market in Russell Martin. It has been rumored that the Cubs were another team that was pursuing Martin, so with him off the market, where should they turn? To Houston of course! After the Astros acquired Hank Conger from the Angels, speculation began that Jeff Luhnow could try and move either Jason Castro or Carlos Corporan, with Castro being the catcher that could bring the most in return.
Adding more fuel to this speculation fire is the fact that the Cubs currently have Starlin Castro manning shortstop, and could be willing to move him with Addison Russell and Javier Baez waiting in the wings. First, a quick comparison of the two Castro’s 162-game averages.
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Obviously. Starlin Castro has the better offensive numbers, aside from home run pop, but it also takes him one hundred more at-bats to provide numbers that are just slightly better. Looking at each player’s dWAR (defensive wins above replacement), Jason Castro is much more valuable, totaling a 1.1 dWAR in 2014, while Starlin Castro came in at -0.2. Starlin Castro still had an edge in overall WAR, with his slightly better offensive numbers doing the heavy lifting, 2.7 to 2.5. Yet, the best season put together by either player has Jason Castro ahead. In 2013, with his stellar offensive season, Jason Castro’s WAR was 4.8. Starlin Castro’s best combined total was in 2012, when he combined for a 4.1.
The Houston catcher’s best season was better, and more recent by comparison.
Based on these numbers, a potential trade could be close to an even swap. Yet, it isn’t. When looking at the ranks of each player among their respective positions, Jason Castro, in 2014, was in the middle of the pack. Starlin Castro was in the top 10 in home runs (7th) and rbi (8th) and first among major league shortstops in batting average at .292.
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Starlin Castro is signed through 2019, with a team option in 2020. The shortstop is also due $6M in 2015, with that number increasing every year throughout the contract. By comparison, Jason Castro is projected to make $3.9M through arbitration by MLBTradeRumors this offseason, and is signed through 2017.
With Carlos Correa projected to be in the majors in 2016 by MLB Pipeline, a Castro for Castro swap, even if it’s a straight up deal, doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Astros. Sure, it would be nice to have Starlin Castro, who is essentially Marwin Gonzalez‘s batting average and on-base percentage plus Jonathan Villar‘s power numbers rolled into one. Yet if the Astros can wait just one more year, the answer may arrive in Correa, who will be much cheaper, allowing the Astros to address other areas of concern.