Astros, Jason Castro agree to reunite on two-year deal
The Houston Astros have signed catcher Jason Castro to a two-year deal.
After frustrating fans with a lack of action this offseason, Houston Astros GM James Click is suddenly on a spending spree. After getting Michael Brantley back on Wednesday, the team has now signed former catcher Jason Castro. The deal is for two years and a total of $7 million and can be worth up to $9 million depending on the number of games he plays in 2021.
There were rumors a few weeks ago that the two sides were close, but those eventually fizzled out. Now the Astros finally get the catcher they wanted, reuniting with the backstop they originally drafted in the first round back in 2008 who played his first six big league seasons in Houston.
Martin Maldonado, who caught most of the team’s games in 2020, is still on hand, but backup Dustin Garneau is now in Detroit. The Astros sought to improve their situation and have someone who could take more of the load off Maldonado’s shoulders, and they have an ideal complement in the veteran Castro. Garrett Stubbs will serve as the first man up in the event of an injury.
A solid defender, Castro also bats from the left side, which sets him up as a supplement to the righthanded Maldonado. In his first stint in Houston, Castro hit .232/.309/.390 with 62 home runs, earning an All-Star selection in 2013. He never quite reached those heights again, but he’s proven to be a durable catcher who can handle a pitching staff.
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Castro started the 2020 season with the division rival Angels and hit .192/.323/.385 in 18 games before being traded to the Padres, where he hit .179/.233/.357 in nine games. He turns 34 in June, so his days as a full-time starter are probably behind him, but his experience and skills make him an ideal backup or platoon piece.
Defensively, he made just one error in 2020 while throwing out 27 percent of would-be base stealers, which was slightly above the league average. That number, along with his .996 fielding percentage, are an improvement over what the Astros had in Garneau. Expect Maldonado to still get the majority of starts, but Castro should play more frequently than Garneau did.
The fact that it’s a two-year deal is interesting. Maldonado’s contract expires after this season, and the Astros do have prospect Korey Lee as their hopeful catcher of the future. Lee’s progress will be something to monitor this year, as it’s unclear if he might be ready to crack the majors in 2022. If he needs more time, the team could consider extending Maldonado for one more season.