Pittsburgh Pirates: An Early Review of the Rodolfo Castro Trade

Did the Pirates make the correct decision when they traded Rodolfo Castro?

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals
Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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Prior to this past summer's trade deadline the Pittsburgh Pirates sent infielder Rodolfo Castro to the Philadelphia Phillies. Was this the right move to make?

Infielder Rodolfo Castro entered the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in 2015 as an international free agent, with a modest $150,000 signing bonus. While he wasn't initially touted as a top prospect, he was recognized as a switch-hitter with immense power potential. During his time in the minor leagues, he consistently showcased his power while struggling with his batting average. Finally, in 2021, after five years in the minors, he received the call-up to the majors, and he made quite an entrance.

Castro's MLB career commenced with a historic feat. His first five hits were all home runs, setting a Pirates' record and making him the first player in the modern era since 1900 to achieve such a remarkable start.

However, his season eventually tapered off, finishing with 17 hits, five of which were those memorable home runs, and no additional homers for the remainder of the season. In the 31 games he played, his performance was challenging both defensively and offensively, managing only a .198 batting average.

In 2022, Castro began to find his footing, with stints in both the minors and majors. He appeared in 71 MLB games, hitting 11 home runs and accumulating 27 RBIs. For the first time in his career, his OPS+ (which compares a player to the league average, with 100 being average) exceeded 100, standing at 102. His batting average remained low at .233, but signs of improvement started to emerge.

The 2023 season started off positively for Castro. In his first 27 games, he hit 3 home runs, recorded 12 RBIs, batted .286, and improved his on-base percentage to .385. It appeared as though he had finally turned the corner, but unfortunately, his performance took a downturn. Month by month, his numbers regressed, and his playing time diminished.

While various factors contributed to his struggles, including limited starts and playing time, some blame has also been placed on the hitting coach, Andy Haines, as discussed by another Rum Bunter writer. Ultimately, the decision to trade him seemed to be in the best interest of both Castro and the Pirates.

On August 1st, the Pirates traded Castro to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Bailey Falter. While it's still too early to determine the winner of the trade, it appears to be a mutually beneficial move for both franchises. The Phillies gained a replacement for former Pirate Josh Harrison, while the Pirates, who already had a well-stocked infield, acquired a possible rotation pitcher. In the end, trading Castro seemed to be the right decision for both the player and the team.

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