Pittsburgh Pirates Miss Out on Catcher Jason Castro


The Pittsburgh Pirates set out this offseason to improve their depth behind the plate.  One of the top remaining free agents has come off the board.

One thing that the Pittsburgh Pirates and new General Manager Ben Cherington have made clear this offseason is that they want to improve the depth behind the plate.  The catching situation turned into a complete disaster in 2019.  Francisco Cervelli missed extended time and Elias Diaz regressed so much that he was nontendered this offseason.  Jacob Stallings was the only saving grace, breaking out on both sides of the ball.

So far this offseason there has been plenty of smoke around the catching market for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  It started with the report that the team was meeting with former Rangers and Astros’ catcher Robinson Chirinos.  Then it was reported that the team was seeking a catcher as the primary piece in a Starling Marte trade.  They also signed backstop Luke Maile, who is a strong defensive catcher with one minor league option left.

One free agent that many Pittsburgh Pirates fans thought the team would be in on was Jason Castro. The veteran catcher spent most of his career with the Houston Astros before playing the last three years with the Minnesota Twins.  This is where the connection came in.  The Bucs new manager, Derek Shelton, was the bench coach with the Twins last season.

Instead, the Bucs did not acquire Castro.  He ended up signing a one year contract with the Los Angeles Angels.  The deal will pay Castro $6,850,000 for the 2020 season and put him back on the market next offseason. This leaves just Robinson Chirinos and Russell Martin as the only notable catchers left on the free-agent market

Pittsburgh Pirates fans thought that he would be a solid fit to join the Pirates.  While Castro is no longer an everyday player, as he is going on 33, he still would have made a near-perfect platoon with Jacob Stallings.  Castro is a left-handed hitter who has much better numbers against righties than lefties.  In fact, all 13 of Castro’s home runs a season ago came against right-handed pitching.  With Stallings being a righty they could have conceivably split time playing matchups.

One has to wonder if the Pittsburgh Pirates were even in on Castro.  While it seemed like a logical fit, his contract is pretty underwhelming.  A one year deal under $7 million should have been more than doable for the small market Bucs.

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It will be interesting to see if the team ends up bringing in a proven catcher this offseason.  They apparently are interested in Robinson Chirinos, and they could acquire one via trade if they miss on Chirinos.  For the contract, Castro would have been worth a look.