So, as readers here are aware, the Astros exchanged arbitration numbers with catcher Jason Castro recently. Castro and his agent, Relativity Baseball, have asked for $5,250,000. The Astros countered with an even $5 million.
In the grand scheme of baseball salaries, a lousy quarter million dollars is chump change. And in the end, it doesn’t matter. This is arbitration. If the two sides cannot decide on an amount, Castro will either play for $5 million or $5.25 million.
But when it comes to 2017, Castro’s first year in free agency, the fact that Luhnow is drawing such a strict line means Castro is probably on his way out, especially if he has a middling year like he did in 2015.
Defensively, Castro’s 1.2 dWAR. Not bad, but how did he compare to other catchers? Well, in the AL, his Rdrs/yr (defensive runs saved averaged over 1,200 innings or roughly 135 games) was 15, which ranked third in the AL among catchers who caught at least half of their team’s games. His RF/G (range factor/game) was fifth best among those catching half their games. And he caught a decent 36 percent of runners trying to steal.
The problem for Castro is that he did all this while putting up a .211/.283/.365 slash line with just 11 HRs and a K-rate at about 34 percent.
Good defense. Not great, but pretty good. But lousy offense.
Meanwhile, in small sample sizes, Max Stassi’s defensive numbers were way better than Castro’s numbers. And, honestly, can his offense be any worse?
Well, maybe. His slash line — in Fresno — was .211/.279/.384 with 13 HRs and a 32 percent K-rate.
The “other” two catchers at AAA in 2015 were Luis Flores and Trent Woodward. Flores seems like a place holder. Woodward, meanwhile, across four levels — he skipped Lancaster — .284/.361/.345 with just one homer but a K-rate below 25 percent. He certainly won’t be ready in 2016, but 2017 might be another matter.
Of course, there’s one other AA and AAA catcher we all need to look at, and that’s Tyler Heineman. Heineman put up a .285/.334/.379 slash with just three homers and a — get this! — a 7.6 percent K-rate.
No power, but good plate discipline. (Though his walk rate isn’t exceptional.)
And that’s it in the high minors. Roberto Pena had a .572 OPS in Corpus.
1. So Luhnow is definitely sending a message with that $250,000, but what are his options? Max Stassi? Tyler Heineman?
2. How much are we all regretting sending Jacob Nottingham to Oakland?
3. Is Luhnow making a mistake? Should Houston maybe try to lock up Castro for three or four years since there isn’t a huge prospect ready and waiting?