Has Jason Castro already told the Astros no, if so, what’s plan B?
The Houston Astros have a big decision to make with the catcher situation. One of the most tenured players on the team, Jason Castro, is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the World Series. The Astros have created a backup plan by converting Evan Gattis back to catcher, but he only has one year left of control. Gattis has a team option of $5.2 million, which I’m sure the Astros will pick up.
While Gattis held his own in 2016 behind the plate, he struggled at times with passed balls. What I like about Gattis though is that he has a surprisingly great arm behind the plate. He does not look like a designated hitter playing catcher but he looks like a catcher catching. This statement was echoed by manager A.J. Hinch in the Tweet above.
Is Gattis the everyday catcher for the Astros?
However, don’t look for Gattis to be the full-time catcher in 2017. Hinch confirmed this at the end of the year press conference. Via Brian T. Smith and Chris Gordy, Hinch said that there is more that goes into being the full-time guy, sees Gattis as a catcher/DH type player. In other words, he did not commit to the idea of Gattis as the everyday guy.
There have been many experts around the nation who like Gattis, but agree with Hinch’s assessment. If Gattis is not the everyday guy, they need a catcher going into the offseason. Remember, Gattis will be a free agent himself next offseason. If you have to sign a player, why not sign the player you know what you got. Gattis and Castro complemented each other very well in 2016.
Has Jason Castro already received an offer?
Knowing how the Astros like to get ahead of the situation by making an early offer, see Jon Singleton and Jose Altuve. What if Jeff Luhnow has already made the best offer, and Castro has told them no? Let’s say they offered him a four-year deal between $40-$50 million a season. What if Castro decided to say no to that offer, deciding to leave the only MLB organization he has known since drafted?
I discussed this idea last week with my co-host on Talking Stros last week. He said that it is possible with the way the arbitration hearings went last year and that he lost playing time to Gattis. Then he made an interesting comment, he said that he probably couldn’t get that much anywhere else.
While there is a trade candidate in Brian McCann and free agents such as Wilson Ramos, Matt Wieters, and Nick Hudley and others. However, Castro knows the Astros pitching staff, the others would have to come in a learn the entire staff. Jeff Luhnow has said that they have a strong desire to have him re-sign with the Stros.
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From MLB Trade Rumors, “Per GM Jeff Luhnow, a bid to re-sign Castro is definitely on the table as the offseason approaches.” While there has been no confirmation on this bid, it makes sense that Luhnow and staff would like to be proactive. However, several weeks have passed and the two sides have not worked out the details.
Could the deal have been taken off the table by Castro hoping to get a better job or offer from another team? I would say that Castro would be the third best free agent catcher on the market. There will be several teams after a catcher this offseason, especially if their catcher signs elsewhere. Castro could get more money elsewhere, but will teams go after him as much as the Astros will?
If I’m right and the Astros offered Castro a four-year deal, he is betting on himself to get a better deal elsewhere. Castro is mostly known for his defensive ability and pitch framing, but he can impact the game at the plate from time to time. If Castro has declined the offer, then it’s time for the Astros to get the best player available.
***Contract and stats from Baseball-Reference***